PM concedes Sabah state poll campaigning among reasons behind recent Covid-19 spike

Perikatan Nasional chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin with component party leaders at a campaign rally in Putatan Sabah September 24, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Perikatan Nasional chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin with component party leaders at a campaign rally in Putatan Sabah September 24, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has admitted that the campaigning for the recent Sabah state election was among the probable causes of the recent Covid-19 spike, as the country announced a new record high of 691 daily cases today.

Muhyiddin said the Election Commission had outlined standard operating procedures for campaigning, but lamented that some failed to obey them.

“I admit the campaigning for Sabah elections is among the reasons for the recent spike of cases,” said Muhyiddin today during a live telecast from his home where he is undergoing his 14-day mandatory quarantine period.

“It was unavoidable as we are bound by the Constitution which states an election must be done within 60 days of its dissolution.

“Sadly there were SOPs not adhered to like social distancing,” he added, giving examples of people not observing physical distancing and not wearing face masks. 

The Sabah election was triggered following the dissolution of the state assembly by Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, after Tan Sri Musa Aman attempted a takeover of the state government with several defectors.

Gabungan Rakyat Sabah, an alliance between Perikatan Nasional, Barisan Nasional and their allies led by Muhyiddin would later win the election on September 26.

Muhyiddin said despite all the efforts the government took he was sad to see so many new cases emerge. 

“The fact is there are still those who were infected in Sabah. This is very sad. Our early efforts were to manage the border control by adding more security personnel and mobilising our assets like ships and patrol boats to monitor our borders. 

“Some places in Sabah have been placed under a targeted enhanced movement control order while airports have increased screenings.

“What I can assure you of is that we are better at our contactt racing as we have more experience now. Also we have 17 million people using the MySejahtera app. This accounts for roughly 60 per cent of the population and it helps us during this pandemic,” Muhyiddin added.

Minister Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad was among those who tested Covid-19 positive after returning from a Sabah visit which coincided with the campaigning. Others included Parti Amanah Negara’s Nor Hayati Bachok, PKR’s Shatiri Mansor and DAP’s Lim Yi Wei.

Malaysia announced yet another record daily high of 691 new Covid-19 cases today, with 219 cases coming from red zones in Sabah.

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