CM’s dilemma in facing the 12th Sarawak Election

Abang Johari at a press conference after presenting the BKSS 4.0 measures today (Oct 23, 2020).

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By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Oct 23: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg today admitted that his Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)-led government is facing a dilemma as to when to call for the next State election.

However, he assured Sarawakians that he will take into consideration all aspects before calling for the 12th State election.

“This is a very difficult sort of situation, very complex. But we have to consider every factor, then we decide.

“For us, we have to look for both factors (the Covid-19 pandemic and the DUN’s expiring in April 2021 because we can’t predict our Covid-19 (cases), today it can be single digit…. And we are subjected to the advice by MOH (Ministry of Health) whether we should have it or not.

“Because I’m also concern for the health of the people. On the other hand, you cannot govern and take measures against Covid-19 if you don’t have the mandate.

“I mean, we (GPS) are not crazy for power. What is important is, you must have the government that has the mandate not only to manage Covid-19 but also to manage the country, the economy,” Abang Johari told a press conference after presenting the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) 4.0 at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here today.

He further explained that the present Sarawak’s State Legislative Assembly (DUN) will expire in April next year and thereafter, there will be a grace period of 60 days until June to have the election.

“We are looking at both (issues). Actually, our term expires in April. But then it has another 60 days until June. I’m subjected to the advice from the experts, especially from the Ministry of Health….and if there is an election we leave it to the Election Commission and follow the SOP (standard operating procedures),” he stressed.

The Chief Minister said Sarawak has to hold its election as it is governed by the tenets of democracy.

“The timing, we can leave to the Election Commission, but we must have the election. But the question is, our term is going to end. We have to get people’s mandate. But the timing is yet to be decided,” he said.

Abang Johari said the present dilemma faced by his government was not an easy issue to solve because there was no guarantee that Covid-19 will subside next year and that there is also no guarantee that there would be vaccines available by next year.

“The question is whether you have election or no election. (And) can you guarantee me next year it (the Covid-19 cases) will be less; can you guarantee me or not?” he asked.

He said, the Sarawak government would have to consider all factors but that sooner or later an election has to be held as it seeks the mandate of the people in order to administer the State.

“This one (on BKSS 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0), I still got the mandate, So I can decide. If I don’t have the mandate, I can’t,” he said.

On the other hand, he said other countries such as New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea have held their elections and they have managed to control the spread of the deadly Covid-19 well.

“But we have seen New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea (having their elections) and at the moment, Myanmar is having its election.

“But I do not want to be like Sabah because the health of the people is also important. But at the same time, you also need the mandate. So, at the moment we are still like that…. (undecided),” he added. —DayakDaily