By-election postponed as Agong declares emergency for Batu Sapi

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah attends the investiture ceremony held in conjunction with the Federal Territory Day celebration at Istana Melawati, Putrajaya February 1, 2020. — Bernama pic
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah attends the investiture ceremony held in conjunction with the Federal Territory Day celebration at Istana Melawati, Putrajaya February 1, 2020. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah today made a Proclamation of Emergency for the Batu Sapi Parliamentary constituency, in effect cancelling the by-election for the seat.

The Proclamation of Emergency based on Clause (1) Article 150 of the Federal Constitution was made after studying the explanation given by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who had presented his advice based on a decision taken at the Cabinet meeting.

“With this declaration, whatever proceedings that had started for the purpose of conducting the by-election for P.185 Batu Sapi would not be continued for the sake of controlling and preventing an outbreak of the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and another date will be set for the by-election.

“Therefore, with this His Majesty has consented that the Declaration of Emergency Proclamation for P.185 Batu Sapi, Sabah be implemented as a proactive step to curb the Covid-19 pandemic,” Istana Negara said in a statement today. 

The Election Commission (EC) had set November 23 for nomination, December 1 for early voting and December 5 for polling for the Batu Sapi by-election.

The by-election was called after Batu Sapi Member of Parliament Datuk Liew Vui Keong died of lung infection on October 2.

Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, in the statement, said Al-Sultan Abdullah was very concerned over the safety of the people in view of the spike in Covid-19 clusters and cases in the country after the 16th Sabah state election on September 26.

“In this regard, His Majesty is of the view that it is very appropriate for the by-election to be cancelled and postponed for the sake of the people’s safety and country’s well-being,” he said.

He said the consent of His Majesty was given based on the lessons and experience of the Sabah state election, which was the main factor for the third wave of Covid-19 in Malaysia.

Ahmad Fadil said His Majesty’s decision was also guided by the fact that there were a number of registered voters staying outside of the Batu Sapi constituency who would have to make inter-district and interstate travel to cast their votes.

Based on EC data, the Batu Sapi seat has 32,962 voters and 3,170 of them have addresses outside of the constituency, including in peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.

Apart from this, an estimated 16,000 voters were registered with general addresses without house numbers and this would make it difficult to conduct postal voting.

The Health Ministry recorded a surge of up to 148.4 per cent in Covid-19 cases, with a cumulative figure of 3,842 cases on October 10, which was two weeks after polling in the Sabah election.

The daily positive Covid-19 cases continued to spike in the following two weeks, registering a hike of up to 193.7 per cent or 11,285 cumulative cases on October 24.

Earlier, Al-Sultan Abdullah granted an audience to the prime minister at Istana Negara, during which His Majesty was briefed by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali, Attorney-General Tan Sri Idrus Harun, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh.

The one-hour audience started at 4pm.

On the spike in Covid-19 cases, Al-Sultan Abdullah advised the people to remain disciplined and play their role to contain the pandemic, apart from asking them to join him in praying for the pandemic to end soon.

“His Majesty expresses his appreciation and high regard for the frontline heroes and heroines for their perseverance and for sacrificing their time and effort to discharge their duties.

“His Majesty and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah also convey their condolences to all the families of Covid-19 victims and hope that they will stay strong in facing the trial,” Ahmad Fadil said. — Bernama

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