KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan has urged allies to stay out of the Batu Sapi federal seat by-election as an act of “political consensus” amid efforts to contain a ravaging pandemic.
The call followed criticism that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had attempted to justify Emergency rule by saying the government had no choice but to continue with the Batu Sapi federal seat by-election and Sarawak state polls yesterday.
The former Negri Sembilan mentri besar argued that giving incumbent party Warisan a walkover would have been the better option than declaring an Emergency, which would have grave ramifications on democracy.
“I can understand the concerns of the prime minister about managing the Batu Sapi by-election and Sarawak state polls at a time when Malaysia is facing a pandemic,” Mohamad said in a statement issued this evening.
“However, to ask for and use Emergency rule as an excuse to delay both (the events) is not only unnecessary but also the worst of options,” he added.
Barisan Nasional had already announced that it would stay out of the Batu Sapi race, Mohamad noted further, as he urged his allies to do the same as homage to the late Datuk Liew Vui Keong, the incumbent whose death triggered the by-election.
“It is known that BN will not contest in Batu Sapi and I urge other parties to also give way to Warisan to win uncontested,” he said.
“It’s a way to pay our respects to the late Datuk VK Liew and to avoid having an election at a time like this,” he added.
“If we can work towards an understanding then we can give Warisan a walkover as a national political consensus to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus. If this can happen, then the Batu Sapi by-election won’t have to go on.”
Muhyiddin delivered an unscheduled “live” address yesterday in which he said the Sarawak state election and the Batu Sapi by-election must go on unless Emergency is declared, just days after the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dismissed the proposal, a call that dealt a huge blow to the prime minister’s image.
Critics quickly accused the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president of “guilt-tripping” the country by using the two polls as grounds to justify emergency rule.
Under the Federal Constitution, an election must be held within 60 days of a seat being declared vacant or the dissolution of a State Legislative Assembly.
The Sarawak assembly is not set to be automatically dissolved until June next year, meaning a state election can be held as far away as August next year, a point Mohamad raised in his statement.
“Can you imagine the implications of an emergency state just to avoid the Sarawak state polls when it can be held as late as 10 months’ time,” the Umno deputy president said.
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg had stated last month the possibility of holding the state election later rather than sooner given the worsening Covid-19 situation.