Sunday, December 5, 2021

Phase 4 not the same as election season, says Hishammuddin

The defence minister says the government must strike a balance between health and safety and democratic demands.

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Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein today said that the atmosphere in Melaka which is currently in Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan cannot be equated with that of an election such as the one scheduled to take place in the state next month.

Speaking at a press conference at the Parliament building, he said the implementation of SOPs for the polls should not be politicised or turned into polemics.

“Yes, wedding ceremonies, feasts and official ceremonies are allowed under Phase Four, but I want to remind everyone that we cannot equate the atmopshere of Phase Four with that of a state election,” he said.

He also said the government must ensure that there are no double standards in the enforcement of SOPs until the Election Commission (EC) takes over on Nov 8, when the Melaka election will officially begin.

He likewise defended the health ministry’s decision to ban any event or activity related to the election.

“I believe the ministry made the decision based on what happened several days before, where we witnessed many gatherings and events that were social in nature but related to the election.

“This led to many gathering… more than 50% than what is allowed under normal SOPs,” he said. “Many did not wear face masks and social distancing was not observed.

“This is a trend that we cannot allow right now.”

Hishammuddin also said that the government must ensure that nothing can give rise to public anger against members or political parties.

The Sembrong MP said it would be awkward for the government if more relaxed SOPs are immplemented before the election but then changed once the EC takes over.

“We have learnt from previous experience, so the SOPs we put forth during the Sabah state election were updated for Melaka.

“If there is a need for a by-election or another state election, the National Security Council will help in terms of ensuring consistency and adjust what is available according to the situation,” he said.

In the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, Umno secretary-general Ahmad Maslan had raised objections to the SOPs for the Melaka election banning any polls-related activities.

PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu also voiced their objections along with the Pontian MP.

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