By Adrian Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31: The Sarawak election which could be held anytime soon is unavoidable as the state of emergency was not declared.
According to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Article 54 Clause 4 of the Sarawak State Constitution provided that the state election must be held within 60 days from the dissolution of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly.
“If election must be held, we cannot stop citizens from Kuching who are going to vote in Samarahan, Sri Aman, Miri, Bintulu and other districts to come out to vote.
“The same goes to Sarawakian voters who are living in Sabah, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan and other states which recorded a high number of Covid-19 cases,” he said during a live telecast on the current Covid-19 situation in Putrajaya today.
He said the federal government and the state government cannot stop voters from returning to their hometown to vote as their rights are stipulated under the Constitution.
“Election is not supposed to be held at the current time. But what can be done as it is stipulated in the Federal Constitution?
“Except when a state of emergency is declared under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution in Batu Sapi (by-election) and Sarawak so that we can postpone first both the elections when the Covid-19 ends,” he pointed out.
Muhyiddin added that during a National Security Council (MKN) meeting which he chaired earlier today, the Election Commission (EC) secretary noted that many election workers were worried about working for the Batu Sapi by election in Sabah.
He noted that Health director general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also expressed his concerns about not having sufficient healthcare facilities in the rural areas to combat the potential surge in Covid-19 cases after the impending Sarawak election was held.
Muhyiddin asserted that the ability of frontliners and logistics as well as the wide geographical area in Sarawak which is hard to be accessible could pose challenges for elections to be held.
He noted that there could be additional cost to be borne by the government if there is a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases after election.
Citing proposals by certain quarters to tighten the standard operating procedures (SOPs) during election, Muhyiddin who is also Pagoh MP said he will look into the SOP prepared by EC for Batu Sapi by-election and the Sarawak state election.
He gathered that there were many challenges faced by EC to draft a SOP which is effective in ensuring that there will be no Covid-19 infection when the election is held.
Among the challenges Muhyiddin said was to prevent the movement of voters in a red zone (of Covid-19) travelling to a green zone to vote.
“Kuching is currently a red zone which recorded more than 70 cases of Covid-19.
“According to the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) which is being implemented, the residents in Kuching are not allowed to travel out of the Kuching district.
“With that, we can curb the Covid-19 transmission to other districts which remain in the green zone,” he added.
On another note, Muhyiddin said the 2021 Budget which will be tabled at the Parliament on November 6 will provide various allocations to government agencies, the rakyat and incentives to the corporate sector, industries and business in overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic and for the country’s economy recovery.
He revealed that the federal government will announce various initiatives to reduce the financial burden of the people in the current economic situation.
Hence, Muhyiddin urged all the MPs to set aside their differences to ensure that the 2021 Budget will be approved for the welfare and interest of the country.
He assured that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government will continue to find the best solution in dealing with the big crisis which the country is facing at present. —DayakDaily