With mandate expiring in April, Sarawak CM says election will depend on Health Ministry advice

Abang Johari said the ruling GPS is not power crazy and is concerned that the Covid-19 situation is managed properly alongside the state economy. — Bernama pic
Abang Johari said the ruling GPS is not power crazy and is concerned that the Covid-19 situation is managed properly alongside the state economy. — Bernama pic

KUCHING, Oct 23 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg today said his government will take advice from the Health Ministry in deciding a suitable time to hold the state election next year.

He said that the mandate for the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is until next April, but added that it can be extended by another 120 days from the date of the automatic dissolution of the state assembly.

“This is a very difficult and complex situation, but we have to consider everything before making a decision,” he told reporters when announcing Covid-19 relief measures under the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang.

Abang Johari said the ruling GPS is not power crazy and is concerned that the Covid-19 situation is managed properly alongside the state economy.

“On the other hand, we cannot govern and take measures if we don’t have the mandate,” he added.

He pointed out that governments elsewhere like Singapore, New Zealand and South Korea have held elections during the pandemic, but reiterated his concern for public health and safety.

“Now, Myanmar is holding their general election. But in the case of the USA presidential election, I don’t want to comment because President Donald Trump has said Covid-19 is not that important.

“But for us in Sarawak, we cannot predict when Covid-19 will be over,” he said, adding that he does not want Sarawak to face the same situation as Sabah did.

Sabah had its state election last month that subsequently led to a spike in Covid-19 cases and fatalities nationwide. 

Hospitals in the state have reached 99.5 per cent capacity and the Sabah government is being forced to decide which patients are high-risk and should be admitted and who are low-risk and can be treated at home.

Yesterday, it registered 578 new cases and four new deaths. Kota Kinabalu, where the Kepayan prison cluster is located, accounted for a majority of that, with 233 cases.

The north Borneo state continues to hold the highest incidents of daily infections and clusters, with more areas placed under partial lockdown in attempts to curb the contagion.

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