“Don’t play God,” says Abdul Karim to EC chairman and PSB

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

By DD Team

KUCHING, Oct 17: Both Election Commission (EC) chairman and Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) should not play God as to when is the most appropriate time to hold the State election, said PBB vice-president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

“Whether we like it or not, unless PSB and EC chairman can foresee the future and can assume that from January until April, there is no more Covid-19. If it’s like that, then tell us.

“If you can play God, then tell us because we are also worried. Anytime from now until April, if we feel that it is right time, and it is not raining and no flood. I think we should have it.

“We are not going to wait until end of the term, because (if) suddenly there is a surge in Covid-19 (cases), then what is the chairman of the EC going to say? Is he going to say that we should prolong it (the DUN) because we are governed by the Federal Constitution,” Abdul Karim told DayakDaily in an exclusive interview here yesterday.

He reiterated that in politics, the remaining term of the DUN (State Legislative Assembly) is a very short time for planning.

“We have about five months more until our present (DUN) term expires. In politics, it’s very short (period of time). And everyone knows that we are going to have DUN sitting from Nov 8-18. So, there cannot be an election before November 18.

“So basically, we have December, January, February, March and April left, five more months to host it. (But) February is Chinese New Year. Do you think we can have it during Chinese New Year? And April is Puasa (fasting) month. Are you going to have it in Puasa month?” he asked.

Abdul Karim was commenting on EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh’s recent comment that Sarawak should not hold the 12th State election during the present Covid-19 pandemic after the Sabah experience.

Following Abdul Ghani’s comment, Abdul Karim said Sarawak has its constitutional rights to hold the election as the current DUN’s tenure ends in April, 2021.

PSB on the other hand, has criticized Abdul Karim that it would be reckless to call for an election now and place the people at risk of Covid-19 infection.

In a statement issued here recently, PSB had accused Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) of being in a hurry to call the state election in the belief that it would be an advantage to the coalition.

“Which matters more: the health of Sarawakians or political power? If an election is held now, and there is an upsurge in infection rate, the blame will lie solely with GPS for doing so after seeing the Sabah experience,” said PSB, in reference to Abdul Karim’s earlier statement.

Rebutting such claim from PSB, Abdul Karim asked, “How do they (PSB) know that it’s going to be a low voters’ turn out? Actually, in Sabah, the Covid-19 pandemic only came after the election. It’s only after that then there was an upsurge.

“Of course, there is a lot of things we can learn from there. But we can’t equate what happened in Sabah to ourselves and create fear to the public by having an election now, you will get Covid-19,” Abdul Karim asserted.

Abdul Karim, who is also Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, insisted that it was Sarawak’s constitutional right to have an election before the end of the current DUN’s tenure.

“The end of the (current DUN) tenure in in April. Unless PSB and EC chairman can guarantee us in the next five months there is no case of Covid-19, then what month (is the most appropriate time to hold the election), you tell us?

“We are as concerned, the fact that we set up SDMC (State Disaster Management Committee), which I think probably Sarawak is the first state which sets it up and regulates it. That’s why you can see that the level of awareness of Sarawakians towards Covid-19 is very high,” said Abdul Karim.

As to when is the best time to hold the State election, Abdul Karim said it could be anytime from after the DUN sitting on November 18 until March, before the fasting month starts.

“So, it could be after DUN sitting in November, or in December, January or March. So, it’s for us to guess which of the remaining month (the election will be held).

“When the CM requested the dissolution of DUN, the EC has to be informed and it has to receive the letter (from the DUN) and then it has to have some kind of preparations such as the ballot boxes, and so on. EC will give a little bit of time,” added Abdul Karim.

Go to DayakDaily talk show – “Spot On” – this coming Sunday (Oct 18) for more details of Abdul Karim’s exclusive interview. —DayakDaily