NGO calls for state election to be held when Covid-19 curve has flattened

Choice. — file pic. //Photo: Pixabay

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KUCHING, Oct 4: Sarawak’s 12th State Election (PRN12) should be held when the Covid-19 curve has flattened.

Rise of Social Efforts (Rose) asserted that if the Sarawak elections were to be held now or before the year ends, people would not feel safe to go out and many Sarawakian voters living in West Malaysia, Sabah or overseas would not be able to make it back for the voting.

“This was borne out by the turnout in the recently concluded Sabah state election where the percentage turnout was less than what was anticipated by the Election Commission (EC).

“An election anytime soon would also effectively disenfranchise many young voters who had left the state to work or study in West Malaysia if absentee voting reforms are not fast enough by the EC to enable them to vote where they live,” a statement from the non-governmental organisation (NGO) read.

Considering the sudden spike of 317 positive Covid-19 cases recorded nationwide yesterday (Oct 3), Rose asserted that it would be highly irresponsible to call for the Sarawak elections now if the political situation in the state allows it.

“The ruling government still has until June 2021 to get a fresh mandate. It would be more prudent to make sure the curve flattens before the mandate is sought by way of state elections,” it pointed out in the statement today.

In stating this, Rose added that its fear about elections triggering spikes or increases in Covid-19 cases in Sarawak like in Sabah if candidates and contesting parties were to start their campaign activities at this junction in time.

“Despite EC calls for candidates and contesting parties to do online campaigning, it is inevitable that all elections require them to campaign from meeting people face-to-face or in large groups usually in close proximity.

“Unless politicians, campaigners and other stakeholders act responsibly and observe the wearing of face masks, social distancing and all other SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), we are afraid that the campaign period accorded to parties will trigger spikes or increases in Covid-19 cases like in Sabah,” it added.

With that, Rose appealed to the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to review priorities and put the safety of the people first because the best mandate is when more people can and feel safe to vote. — DayakDaily