Chong: Election SOP not to control Covid-19, gives GPS an advantage

Chong (centre) addresses the media during a press conference today.

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By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Dec 6: The standard operating procedures (SOPs) released by the Election Commission (EC) on Dec 5 for the 12th Sarawak Election is not for the purpose of controlling the Covid-19 pandemic, says DAP Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

Speaking at a press conference today, Chong alleged that the SOP was made and meant to manipulate the election process for the advantage of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

He pointed that one of the SOPs stated that physical ceramah (talks) or gatherings are not allowed throughout the campaign period, except for 64 out of 82 constituencies that does not that good internet or 4G coverage.

In these 64 constituencies, ceramah in open air or public spaces are strictly prohibited.

Instead, it must be held in a closed door area such as village community halls or a ‘ruai’ inside a longhouse.

Ceramah organisers can gather a maximum of 150 people at any one time or attendance at venue restricted to 50 per cent, and the audience is limited to the residents of the kampung or longhouse.

“It seems that the lives of our rural people are not important when it comes to the election. While we understand the reasoning to control the attendance of participants, holding indoor talks may not be safe as we all know that Covid-19 can spread faster in indoor areas,” Chong said.

He further explained that this was one of the reasons why eateries were told to keep their doors and windows open at all times when the government relaxed the SOP on dining out.

At the same time, Chong asserts that it is almost 99 per cent impossible for the Opposition to rent a village community hall because they need to seek permission from respective village security and development committees (JKKK), whom he alleged are “controlled by GPS government”.

When asked if he would appeal to the EC on the SOPs, Chong said it was the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) whom are all from GPS that drafts the SOP, along with the Health Ministry and the police.

“We agreed that everyone must not take their eyes off of the Covid-19 pandemic and must do everything possible to prevent Covid-19 infections. But now it is being used as an excuse to prevent the holding of a clean, free and fair election. In the course of implementing the SOPs, EC is obviously prioritising GPS.

“GPS is prioritising their political interest above the lives of the people in Sarawak,” Chong said.

Meanwhile, Chong will be defending the Padungan seat for DAP in a four-way contest against Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) candidate Wee Hong Seng, Parti Bumi Kenyalang’s (PBK) Raymond Thong and Parti Aspirasi Rakyat Sarawak’s (Asiprasi) Lina Soo. — DayakDaily