The Sarawak government today said its vaccination programme must be completed by August in order to facilitate the upcoming state election which must be held within 60 days of the current term’s expiry in June.
State Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said at least 70% of Sarawak’s population must be fully vaccinated before they can go to the polls.
“It’s no secret any longer that the Sarawak state election will be held soon,” Karim, the vice-president of PBB, the lynchpin party of the ruling GPS, told MalaysiaNow.
He was responding to the suggestion by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin that Sarawak consider using the AstraZeneca vaccine given the state’s goal of vaccinating its population by August before heading to the polls.
Sarawak is the only state that holds elections at the state level separately from the parliamentary polls.
Karim said Sarawak must complete its vaccination programme in order to avoid a spike in Covid-19 cases such as the increase that had occurred after the snap election in Sabah last year.
He said only a state of emergency could delay or otherwise change the scenario, adding however that the current emergency period is due to end on Aug 1.
“So even if the emergency has placed the Sarawak state assembly in temporary hibernation, it cannot be dissolved on June 6, when the present tenure ends.
“It will automatically dissolve once the emergency ends on Aug 1.”
GPS, which holds 68 of Sarawak’s 82 state constituencies, comprises Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu, the Sarawak United Peoples Party, Parti Rakyat Sarawak and the Progressive Democratic Party.