Early engagement with relevant authorities crucial

Professor Datuk Mohd Fadzil Abdul Rahman

KUCHING: The Sarawak government must engage with the relevant authorities and alert them on any possibilities of the state holding the 12th state election soon so that early preparation can be made.

Political analyst Prof Datuk Mohd Fadzil Abdul Rahman said this is important to ensure a safe campaigning and election process in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said that politically, the state government may want to keep the election date a secret, but still the authorities have to be informed earlier for them to make prior preparation.

“At the same time, it is important for the Election Commission (EC) to come up with a solid framework on how to manage the election during the pandemic especially in Sarawak.

“Whether or not the state government will disclose to them on when the state election will be held, they need to get themselves ready by now. Anything is possible.

“Don’t wait until the last minute because this is at the expense of the life of the citizen,” he told New Sarawak Tribune when contacted on Friday (Oct 1).

The deputy vice chancellor (Development and Leadership) of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) also said the state must have a strategic plan for the election.

“They have to plan it well and systematically with regards to campaigning. I think this is the most crucial.

“Political parties need to be reminded that they really have to plan well. Because to me, that is where the issue is going to crop up, the issue of having so many people at any one time where they might forget about the standard operating procedures (SOPs) because they are already into politics and campaigning.

“… and they forget that they still have a responsibility to make sure that people are not infected by Covid-19 throughout the campaign process,” he pointed out.

Mohd Fadzil pointed out that incidents like what happened after the previous Sabah election must be avoided at all costs.

“For Sarawak, the only thing that I am a bit relieved about now is that most of the eligible population have been inoculated against Covid-19,” he said.

He said calling for the election required serious consideration, adding that the state government had no choice but to proceed with the long overdue election.

“Rumours that say it will probably be held at the end of November or December, we cannot brush that aside.

“There is a possibility that the election will be conducted this year, but subject to the state’s decision, Covid-19 situation as well as the lifting of the Emergency order,” he said.

He said that the state government was caught in a difficult situation where it needed to have a new mandate and at the same time to look after the people’s health.

“I think the current government needs a mandate because there are many things to be executed and what more after the announcement of the 12 Malaysia Plan (12MP).

“Without this new mandate, it is almost difficult, or almost impossible for them to implement whatever plan they have because they need to have the authority, they need to have the mandate in order to execute all that,” he said.

He opined that the only thing to stop the election would be the Covid-19 situation with regard to infection rate or another movement control order (MCO).

“I think perhaps it is the only reason for them to extend the election further. Otherwise, I am very positive that the state government has no choice but to proceed with the election at the end of November or December.

“Having said that, should the election be held this year, there must be proper guidelines, procedures and protocols with regard to the campaigning and election process,” said Mohd Fadzil.