KOTA KINABALU, Nov 18 — Parti Warisan Sabah said today it has accepted the Agong’s decision to declare a state of emergency in Batu Sapi, where the party had intended to defend its seat in a by-election that is due to start in five days.
The party, led by former chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, said that it believes the decision was made in good faith to protect the people’s health, but also urged the government to ensure the by-election can be carried out as soon as the pandemic is under control.
“His royal highness had exercised his wisdom in declaring the state of emergency which effectively postpones the Batu Sapi by election that is scheduled for December 5. In the process of democracy, the people’s health cannot be put at risk, but instead made into a priority,” he said.
“However, at the same time, we hope that the government will find the best way to set a date to let the people of Batu Sapi know when the emergency will be over,” said the statement, explaining that voters need a representative in Parliament to voice their concerns.
“It is the people’s right to choose their own elected representative as soon as the virus is under control and the government pulls back the emergency,” he said.
Warisan said that the King’s emergency declaration was appropriate considering that the area was declared a red zone owing to the high number of Covid-19 cases.
They hoped that the government would look after the welfare of the people in Batu Sapi during the emergency and ensure that everyone received food and daily necessities without favour.
The Batu Sapi parliamentary seat fell vacant when its incumbent, Warisan permanent chairman Datuk Liew Vui Keong passed away on October 2. Despite misgivings about holding a by-election during the pandemic, it was a constitutional requirement that the seat be filled within 60 days of receiving notice.
Most opposition parties including Barisan Nasional, Parti Bersatu Sabah, Parti Cinta Sabah and all parties within the state’s Perikatan Nasional alliance had declared it would not contest the seat. However, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia had yet to announce its stand.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah made the declaration this evening after meeting with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.