State polls amidst pandemic will deprive many from voting – Wong

Arthur Wong

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KUCHING, Feb 5: Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) Central Committee publicity secretary Arthur Wong has claimed that holding the 12th State Election during this restricted and uncertain pandemic period is “a tactic to discourage potential supporters and voters of rivals from voting”.

As such, he questioned if the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is losing the confidence in voters, especially overseas voters, in that they might swing the election results towards the opposition.

Wong thus argued that Sarawak should not take the risk to hold the 12th State Election during this uncertain pandemic period especially when Covid-19 restrictions are still in place as it would deprive many from casting their votes.

“More so when emergency order is in force until August and with most of the country in Movement Control Order (MCO), holding the election is in a way telling overseas Sarawakians that they do not have to come back to vote.

“If GPS  holds highly the federal law as the supreme rules; and if the current emergency that has suspended all political activities, mean anything, then Sarawak election can be delayed until the emergency is lifted.

“Why so keen to hold the Sarawak election before the (Sarawak State Legislative Assembly) term expires on June 6, 2021?,” he further questioned in a statement today.

Wong was responding to the views of GPS leaders Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing and Datuk Idris Buang, saying that the 12th State Election could be held before the current term expires in June provided that the Covid-19 situation has come down and under control including greenlight from both Ministry of Health and Election Commission.

However, Wong opined that the Sarawak election should not be conducted until the emergency order has been lifted or at least until Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted or that a proper absentee voting is in place, so that more, if not all Sarawakians, can go to the ballot.

“Unless all voters in Sarawak could participate in the coming election either physically present to vote or through postal vote or secured online voting, no Sarawak election should be conducted until emergency is lifted.

“And by then, (perhaps) Covid-19 will no longer be an issue,” he added.

Meanwhile, Masing who is also Deputy Chief Minister, pointed out that before the state election can be held, it was crucial that the number of Covid-19 cases be kept to the lowest possible.

The Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president reiterated that Sarawakians must face the fact that Covid-19 will be there indefinitely but election has to be held to seek new mandate from the people on who to administer the State or country.

Idris, who is Muara Tuang assemblyman, also believed that Sarawak must try to hold the election before the present term expires but with strict standard operating procedure (SOP) in place to prevent the spread or surge of Covid-19.

Furthermore, the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) information chief, added that campaigning can be done on digital platform which he has started exploring recently to reach out to his constituents.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has yesterday gave assurance in a televised address to the nation that he will advise Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve the Parliament as soon as the outbreak of Covid-19 has subsided and the General Election is safe to he held. — DayakDaily