PEKAN, July 4 — A special tent for body temperature screening and attendance records are among the new normal at the Chini state by-election which is taking place during the Covid-19 pandemic environment.
Observations at the Felda Chini 3 Quran and Fardu Ain (KAFA) Class, polling centre near here, found that all voters who wanted to go to the polling centre have to get their body temperatures screened in the first tent facing the gate, besides being required to wear face masks.
Normally, voters will go to the Election Commission (EC) stations to check on their voting lanes, but this time it was practically deserted because the majority of voters already knew their voting lanes through the Voter Cards which they received before the polling day.
The move is aimed at preventing congestion, the same as why the EC in the Chini by-election has issued a recommended voting time, as a measure of compliance with the aspect of social distancing following the pandemic.
In adhering to social distancing aspects, the seats for senior citizens were arranged one metre apart from each other, while in the younger people’s lanes police and EC staff frequently reminded voters to adhere to the prescribed distance.
Other guidelines emphasised are the use of hand sanitisers before and after voting, besides voters must also use plastic gloves before voting, which has to be taken out for the EC staff to ‘mark’ the indelible ink on their (voters) finger by using a brush.
Unlike in past elections where a voter’s finger was dipped into a bottle of indelible ink, a brush would be used for each voter this time at the Chini by-election to signify that they have carried out their duty.
After voting, the EC staff will immediately remind them to head to the special tent to record their presence at the polling centre, to facilitate the ‘tracking’ process in the event of any undesirable incident at the polling centres.
Voters can record their attendance by either using their smartphones to scan the QR code MySejahtera, which the government has developed to help monitor the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak or manually by leaving their phone number with the EC staff.
In addition to the presence of EC and police personnel, also seen at the polling centres were health officials whose presence is a precautionary measure in the event of voters having symptoms of Covid-19.
The Chini state seat by-election sees Barisan Nasional fielding a second generation Felda settler, Mohd Sharim Md Zain, 41, to defend the state seat in a a three-cornered fight with two independent candidates, namely businessman Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin, 64, and Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli, 49, a blogger.
The by-election is being held following the death of incumbent Datuk Seri Abu Bakar Harun, 60, at Kuala Lumpur Hospital due to a heart attack on May 7. Abu Bakar was Chini state assemblyman since the 11th general election in 2004.
In the 14th general election, Abu Bakar retained the Chini state seat with a majority of 4,622 votes, after securing 10,027 votes against PAS candidate Mohd Fadhil Noor Abdul Karim, who obtained 5,405 votes and PKR’s Mohamad Razali Ithnain, who garnered 1,065 votes. — Bernama