Ministry ready for online campaigning in Chini by-election

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah. Photo: Bernama

PEKAN: The Communications and Multimedia Ministry (CMM) is ready to provide enhanced internet capacity and coverage if the Election Commission (EC) decides to encourage campaigning for the Chini state by-election to be held via social media.

Its minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the Pahang Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) office had started works to upgrade and expand the internet capacity in the area since last week.

“On May 27, MCMC conducted tests at all the 15 polling district centres (PDM) and found that several areas were quite weak in terms of internet coverage, with the worst being PDM Felda Chini 3.

“Upgrading has been done in stages by the main telecommunications companies here and tests at PDM Felda Chini 3 today showed improvements in terms of coverage, and it is hoped that it will further improve by nomination day,” he added.

Saifuddin told reporters this after visiting the Felda Chini 1 Internet Centre here, accompanied by Pahang MCMC director Zahari Ismail, Pahang Telekom Malaysia general manager Datuk Zulfikri Hashim and Pahang Information director Mohd Salmun Mustafa.

He said the internet upgrade took into consideration the projected increase in the number of people in Felda Chini during the by-election, especially on polling day when many people are expected to return to cast their votes.

“Telecommunications companies have been asked to provide mobile transmitting stations in areas with high population density, while for areas with fewer people we will optimise the use of existing transmitting towers here,” he said.

Saifuddin said if online campaigning was made the standard operating procedure (SOP) for Chini, it would pave the way for the EC to reform the country’s electoral system in line with technological developments.

Apart from online campaigning, Saifuddin also saw the need for a new SOP to limit the number of people turning up for the nomination process in the future to avoid wastage of funds and resources.

“The procession of supporters usually requires huge expenditure for transport, provision of flags and the like. I think healthy politics calls for cutting out wastage of money and energy, apart from reducing tension between supporters (of opposing parties),” he said.

The Chini by-election was called following the death of incumbent assemblyman Datuk Seri Abu Bakar Harun of Barisan Nasional on May 6 due to a heart attack.

The EC has fixed June 20 for nomination and July 4 for polling.

In the 14th general election, Abu Bakar won the seat with a 4,622-vote majority, polling 10,027 votes to beat PAS’ Mohd Fadhil Noor Abdul Karim, who had 5,405 votes, and PKR’s Mohamad Razali Ithnain, who lost his deposit after garnering only 1,065 votes. – Bernama