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Virus situation, EC guidelines to determine Sarawak polls

CM Abang Johari Openg says the situation must be conducive to holding a state election.

Nur Shazreena Ali
2 minute read
Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg. Photo: Bernama
Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg. Photo: Bernama

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg says the widely anticipated state election will be held during the pandemic only if the Election Commission (EC) issues new SOPs to ensure public safety.

Speaking at a press conference in Kuching today, he said Sarawak was waiting for the EC to come up with the guidelines.

He added that he believed state polls should not be held if conditions are unsafe or not conducive to public health.

“The emergency will end on Aug 1, so we will see what happens next. There are three things that we have to consider, firstly the Covid-19 situation and whether this has improved or not.

“Secondly, whether the EC has finished sorting out the SOPs, and what kind of SOP – that has to be decided by the EC,” he said, adding that the state did not want a repeat of the Sabah election last year which saw a spike in number of cases after the polls.

He also said the present government would need a new mandate if the Covid-19 situation remains unchanged once the state of emergency is lifted.

“So it’s up to agencies like the health ministry and the EC to weigh all of these factors because the decisions are on their side,” he said.

“Just wait and see what will happen within these two weeks.”

Abang Johari said the EC should provide new SOPs that can mitigate the voter turnout and reduce public concern over Covid-19 while encouraging the people to fulfil their responsibility at the ballot box.

“If the emergency ends on Aug 1, then the state election must be held within 60 days,” he said.

“But we must make sure that the situation is conducive. We do not want the people not to go out and vote because of the fear of the spread of Covid-19.

“So we will wait and see what the EC says.”

When asked if Sarawak would be able to extend the emergency period to delay the state polls, Abang Johari said the power to do so rests with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.