Vaccination first, then state polls

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

KUCHING: Sarawak intends to complete its vaccine rolloutby August to allow for the state election to be held, says Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

“The Sarawak government intends to complete its vaccination programme in August in order to facilitate the implementation of the state election.

“It must complete its vaccination programme so that it can avoid the spike of Covid-19 cases which happened in the Sabah election held last year,” he said in a blog post today.

Abdul Karim, who is Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, said while the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) was scheduled to be dissolved in June, it also hinged on the current emergency declaration.

“Only the emergency order can postpone the election or change the situation. So, if the current emergency postpones the DUN sitting, then it (DUN) cannot be dissolved on June 6, when the term of office officially ends.”

He was responding to National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP) coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who suggested Sarawak use the AstraZeneca vaccine to help boost the state’s vaccine rollout for the state election.

Khairy said he made the offer to the state government to use the vaccine as it was dropped from the NCIP due to public concern and controversy over its safety.

The term of the current DUN ends on June 6, 2021. The first meeting of the DUN after the 11th State Election was on June 7, 2016, and the tenure of the current DUN expires five years from that date.

However, due to the emergency declaration, the state assembly was suspended and the state election could not be held. The emergency is scheduled to end on Aug 1.

Sarawak has 82 state seats – 68 are held by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), PSB – 6, DAP – 5, PKR – 1, Bersatu – 1, and Independent – 1.