Holding state election amid Covid-19 is ‘out the frying pan into fire’ — Asfia

Medical personnel stationed at the DUN complex to monitor temperature of those entering the building.

By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, May 10: “Out of the frying pan into the fire” was how Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar described the next state election if it is called during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Despite the country under the conditional movement control order (CMCO) until June 9, the DUN sitting will proceed with a one-day conference tomorrow.

He explained that under Article 21(3) and Article 21(4) of the State Constitution, the Dewan is inadvertently dissolved and to be followed by a general state election with 60 days from the date of its dissolution if they do not follow the constitution, whereby DUN must sit once in every six months.

“The last sitting was on Nov 13, 2019. The state constitution compels and impels the Dewan to hold its meeting on May 11, just two days before the expiry of the six-month period on May 13, 2020.

“Medical and public health also opines that it is much safer to assemble 82 members with social distancing in a disinfected building than to have thousands of voters turning out to cast their votes with social distancing in the unsafe building throughout the country,” he told a press conference here today.

Mohd Asfia at the press conference.

As to suggestions that the DUN sitting can be conducted via video conferencing, he said the matter does not arise.

To another question on how much can the one-day sitting achieve, Asfia pointed out that in the event of unfinished business, DUN can be convened again at any time thereafter without waiting for another six months.

“Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg can call for the sitting anytime if there are urgent matters that need to be addressed.

“Under Standing Order 8(2), the Dewan shall meet at a date determined by chief minister providing not less than three days’ notice to the speaker,” he said. — DayakDaily