Masing: Tricky to hold elections during pandemic, but the ‘show must go on’

Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.

KUCHING, Oct 29: Amid the recent spike in Covid-19 positive cases nationwide, talks about the next 12th Sarawak election (PRN12) is also getting momentum as the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) will expire in April 2021.

In this regard, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said, Sarawak is facing an inevitable political situation as PRN12 has to be called in accordance with the law.

“It’s is Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s call as to when PRN12 should be held. He is in a better position to make the correct judgment in regards to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But PRN12 must be carried out in accordance with the law of the nation, which must be held once in every five years. The Election Commission, therefore, must exercise its duties as required by laws,” Masing told DayakDaily today.

As to when is the most appropriate time to hold the election, Masing who is also Deputy Chief Minister said, either it is held this year or next year, there is no guarantee that the Covid-19 pandemic would subside anytime soon.

“There is no guarantee that Covid-19 will disappear next year. (And) by June 2021 Sarawak’s DUN will be dissolved with or without the Covid-19 pandemic.

“(So), it’s better to have PRN12 be held while Covid-19 cases in Sarawak is still in small clusters which we can control,” he said.

Masing asserted that should PRN12 were to be held, strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) should be adhered to by everyone.

“Once a person is caught and proven guilty he/she must be penalised in accordance to the SOP health measures. There should be no excuse.

Masing was commenting on Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah advice against holding any election as cases of Covid-19 are on the rise nationwide.

However, Nor Hisham said, if it must be held, then new and stricter SOPs must be in place and postal voting should be encouraged.

His comments come amid reports that the 12th Sarawak state election, which must take place by June next year, is expected to be held soon, while the Batu Sapi by-election in Sabah is scheduled to take place on Dec 5.

Noor Hisham said, his ministry was concerned over another surge in Covid-19 cases after an election, as seen with the Sabah polls.

“Our recommendation is not to have an election. But if we must have it, maybe we can look into different means of carrying out the election, such as no cross-border or cross-district travel, no gatherings and no house-to-house visits.

“We have learned this from Sabah. We hope we do not repeat similar consequences of the election in other states,” Nor Hisham told a press conference two days ago.

Meanwhile, few days ago, Abang Johari had said, even though he was facing a dilemma in deciding when to call for the PRN12, he assured the people that would consult health experts before calling for the dissolution of DUN. – DayakDaily