Agong could extend Emergency for Sarawak

Datuk Gerawat Gala

KUCHING: In view of the pending Sarawak state election and the state’s Covid-19 situation at the Emergency period’s scheduled end, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong could extend the Emergency only in respect of Sarawak until a point at which it would be safe to hold the state election.

Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala said if the current nationwide Emergency expired on Aug 1 and not extended by the Agong beyond that date, then the Sarawak DUN would be dissolved and the state election would have to be held within two months of the dissolution of the DUN.

“However, if the Covid-19 infections in Sarawak are still very high, making it unsafe to hold the state election, the Agong can extend the Emergency only in respect of Sarawak until such time when it is safe to hold the state election.

“Even during the Emergency period, the Agong can dissolve the DUN after consultation with our TYT (Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud) to allow the state election to be held within two months from the date of such dissolution,” he said on Friday (June 18).

He emphasised that the government’s priority has always been the health and safety of the people.

“Even before the present Emergency was enforced in January 2021, the chief minister and GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) have been prepared to face the state election since July 2020.”

Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing said the lifting of Emergency after Aug 1 would leave Sarawak in a political and social conundrum.

He pointed out that, by law, the state election would have to be held within two months of the end of the Emergency period.

At the same time, he also noted that the practice of parliamentary democracy at a time of a health crisis was not necessarily the best for the people.

“The decision makers in any democratic nation must be intelligent enough to choose between the practice of democracy and the safety of human lives.”