State election cannot be postponed anymore

Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi

KUCHING: The Sarawak government cannot postpone the upcoming state election after the Emergency is lifted on August 1, said constitutional law expert Prof Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi.

“The Emergency proclamation of Jan 2021 and the Emergency Ordinance suspended all elections and state assemblies until August 1.

“So, can the Sarawak government itself postpone the election? I don’t think that is possible. The tenure of the Sarawak assembly; the calling of the election within 60 days of the end of the term, that is provided for in the Sarawak Constitution.

“There is no running away from that, if we have to depart from that, we need a new proclamation of Emergency for Sarawak after Aug 1,” he said during a webinar organised by The Sarawak Initiatives (TSI) on Saturday (July 24).

Shad said a new ordinance is needed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the federal parliament to postpone the election for a limited time or indefinitely.

“Once the Emergency ends on August 1, the clock begins to tick for Sarawak election, and it would require an intervention of the federal government in terms of proclamation of Emergency.

“This could be confined just to Sarawak and the follow-up of such proclamation, an ordinance which postpones the election.

“That is possible. A new ordinance may be passed so that elections shall not be held until the Agong, after consultation or advice of Sarawak chief minister decides otherwise.

“The intervention by the federal government is necessary as this (Emergency) is not a state power, it is a federal power,” he said.

Several opposition politicians have called for the state election to be postponed to next year following the high number of Covid-19 cases in Sarawak.

Last month, the Election Commission (EC) confirmed that the Sarawak state election was postponed since the state of emergency declared nationwide on Jan 11 was still in place.