State polls inevitable

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin delivering a speech regarding the current Covid-19 situation that was broadcasted live from his residence today. Photo: Bernama

KUCHING: The upcoming state election as well as the Batu Sapi by-election will have to take place unless an emergency is declared, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“Article 21 of the Sarawak State Constitution provides that state elections must be held within 60 days from the date of dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly.

“Similarly, elections must be held within 60 days after there is a vacancy for a parliamentary seat according to Article 54 of the Federal Constitution.

“Therefore, if you ask me, the election should not be held at this time. Unless an emergency is declared under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution in Batu Sapi and Sarawak, we cannot postpone the two elections,” he said.

He said this during a televised address today (Oct 31). Muhyiddin said he takes note of the worries of election officials concerning the coming elections with Sarawak not having adequate rural health facilities.

“The abilities and capacities of frontliners and health logistics will also become increasingly constrained by the geographical conditions of Sarawak as some areas are very difficult to access,” he said.

Muhyiddin said that if the election must be held, it had to be done under tightened standard operating procedures (SOPs).

He said, however, there are constrains in limiting the movements of voters as they have the constitutional right to vote.

“The movements of voters from red areas to green areas are also unstoppable. Kuching is now a red zone that recorded over 70 Covid-19 cases,” he said.

Muhyiddin also said if all returnees are being subjected to Covid-19 screening upon arrival both for Sarawak and for Batu Sapi, the costs would be high and the laboratories might not have the capacity to facilitate such move.

“If the elections cannot be postponed for any reason, my appeal to the residents of Batu Sapi and Sarawak is to be careful,” he said.