Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

KUCHING: If the coming state election is to be suspended by way of declaring a state of emergency as was done for Batu Sapi by-election in Sabah, the federal government must consult Sarawak on the matter first.

“The dissolution of the state assembly to pave the way for the 12th state election at the end of the term in June 2021 is in the hands of the chief minister and the Yang di-Pertua Negeri,” said Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

“It is also the state’s Constitutional requirement to hold an election within 60 days of dissolution of the assembly either via a call made by the chief minister or when the five-year term automatically lapses.”

The Santubong MP said the federal government – be it the prime minister or a federal minister representing the Cabinet must discuss the matter with the chief minister and all government agencies – Election Commission, Health Ministry, Police and the Army.

“The federal cabinet should not decide alone on the question of declaring emergency under Article 150 in the state which will effectively suspend the right of the people to give mandate to the state assembly and renewal of that mandate through the state election.”

The decision of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to place Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency under a state of emergency and cancel its coming by-election was to prioritise the lives and wellbeing of the constituents.

Wan Junaidi said it was not an easy decision to arrive at for the federal government with elections being a democratic practice to get mandate from the people.

“The choice was between an election which may worsen the pandemic similar to what happened after the Sabah state election or to save lives and prioritise the economy. The basis to declare emergency under Article 150 are there, however, it’s just a choice.

“After a thorough consideration, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong agreed to declare an emergency under Article 150 to save lives, wellbeing of the people and the country’s economy,” he said today.

He was commenting on the emergency declaration for Batu Sapi constituency which is slated to have its by-election on Dec 5 following the death of its MP Datuk Liew Vui Keong on Oct 2.