State of Emergency can be lifted earlier if pandemic eases

Dick Lembang Dugun

KUCHING: Political analyst Dick Lembang Dugun has suggested that if the Covid-19 pandemic could be brought under control, then the state of Emergency in Sarawak could be lifted earlier to give way to Sarawak’s 12th state election (PRN-12) with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place.

He said this control would involve bringing the number of Covid-19 cases down, completing vaccinations to a satisfactory level, and achieving herd immunity.

He emphasised the importance of ensuring that democracy is functioning in the state.

“The mandate from the people is important to ensure the sovereignty and legitimacy of the government. The check and balance in the State Legislative Assembly should be functioning,” he said.

He pointed this out when prompted for comments on the proclamation that Sarawak will remain under a state of Emergency until Feb 2 next year, meaning its state election will not take place until this Emergency is lifted.

He said the movement control order (MCO) and previously announced nationwide Emergency were aimed at combating the pandemic but noted that these strategies had completely failed, if the current rising number of Covid-19 cases and deaths were used as indicators.

“So bring back the spirit of parliamentary democracy to this country,” urged the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) lecturer.

At the same time, he opined that the proclamation of Emergency specifically for Sarawak was the right decision due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases and the presence of the highly infectious Delta variant.

Dick believed this proclamation was made to suspend Sarawak’s PRN-12, pointing out that this election would be suspended until Feb 2 if the Emergency is not lifted earlier.

“As we know, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) – which is the current government of Sarawak – is ready enough to face the election. This is because the members realise that they need the mandate from Sarawakians to govern Sarawak,” he said.

Furthermore, he said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg also needed his first mandate as chief minister of Sarawak.

“Until now, he has used the mandate given by Sarawakians to the late Tok Nan (former Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem) after the demise of the latter in January 2017.

“Of course, as a responsible leader, Abang Johari needs his own mandate to govern Sarawak,” he said.

He said this localised Emergency in Sarawak would give more room to all political parties with interest in contesting in Sarawak’s coming election to prepare themselves.

“It gives more room to plan or come up with strategies to win the voters,” he said.

Dick noted that the political parties are aware of the advantages and disadvantages if the state election is held now or later.

“There are pros and cons to both sides of political divides,” he said.