Need proper standard operating procedures for election process

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

KUCHING: The Election Commission (EC) and State Disaster Management Committee must formulate proper standard operating procedures for an election process to be held besides ensuring it will not escalate the pandemic.

Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu vice president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, in pointing this out, said the impending election could not be avoided lest the Sarawak government was seen as using the pandemic to hang on to power.

“The only provision that can override the mandatory requirement of where election must be held every five years or earlier if the Parliament or State Legislative Assembly (DUN) dissolves is a proclamation of Emergency by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.

“The existing Emergency will lapse on August 1 and unless a new Emergency is proclaimed for the whole nation or specifically for Sarawak, only then can the DUN tenure be prolonged or extended,” he told New Sarawak Tribune when contacted today.

He, however, said the extension of the Emergency was unlikely to happen as it had been made known that it was not likely to be extended beyond Aug 1.

“In that circumstance, I opine that DUN Sarawak will automatically dissolve upon expiry of the Emergency on Aug 1 and the state election must be held within 60 days thereof.

“The EC must act with or without Covid-19 pandemic still prevailing,” he said.

Abdul Karim viewed that there must be a real cause for Emergency to be imposed — either there was a civil disorder, calamities or a serious health threat.

“The existing Emergency is because of a health threat caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But the situation on the ground has been addressed with widespread vaccination. Life has gone back to almost normal with Parliament allowed to sit, business opened up and the public are allowed to move around.

“Under that circumstance, I don’t foresee there is a real serious threat of a health pandemic that will permit another Emergency to be imposed,” he said.

Abdul Karim was asked whether there is a need for a localised Emergency in Sarawak to defer the 12th state election until the Covid-19 situation improved.

The issue was raised by Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen during the five-day special Parliament sitting on Monday.