KUCHING, May 12 ― The coming 12th state election can wait until the Covid-19 situation is put under control, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He pointed that with the whole world now facing a drastic spike of infections like what is happening in India, Sarawak is fully focusing on efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 infection while implementing the immunisation programme for its 2.08 million people eligible to receive the vaccine.
He explained that Sarawak is now trying to get enough supply of vaccines through negotiating and direct procurement from suppliers so that the immunisation programme can be completed by August.
“The state government has to get approval from the federal government and related agencies before the booking of vaccines can be made by Sarawak.
“In addition to that, the state government also needs to get permission from the federal government to gazette private hospitals as dedicated vaccination centres in order to expedite the immunisation process, especially in urban areas.
“So far, Covid-19 has claimed many lives in Sarawak. These lives are precious and priceless. Therefore, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government is now giving priority to fight Covid-19. Other matters such as state election can wait until circumstances permit,” he said in his Hari Raya Aidilfitri address.
As such, he called on Sarawakians eligible for the vaccine to quickly register themselves if they had not done so, and this can be done through MySejahtera mobile app or any relevant methods in their respective areas.
Sarawak is scheduled to hold its state election this year, since the current term of the present State Legislative Assembly (DUN) ends on June 6, after which an election must be held within 60 days according to the State Constitution.
However, no general election, state or by-election can be held during the present State of Emergency period unless lifted earlier than August 1.
On January 12, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah proclaimed a State of Emergency, to be enforced up to August 1, as a proactive measure to contain the worsening Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia.
DUN deputy speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala was recently quoted as saying that until and unless the Agong dissolves DUN within the current Emergency period from January 21 to August 1, DUN will not be dissolved and the state election cannot be held.
Gerawat stressed that the current assemblypersons and Cabinet’s term of office would continue until the end of the Emergency on August 1 or any extension thereof, unless the Agong in consultation with the Head of State dissolves DUN earlier than the expiry of the Emergency.
He had explained that Section 18 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 read together with Section 15 have effectively extended DUN’s term beyond June 6 because Article 21(3) of Sarawak’s Constitution (which provides for dissolution of DUN by June 6, 2021) and the laws governing the remuneration for ADUNs and ministers are now superseded by Section 15 of the Ordinance which expressly provides that only the Agong can dissolve DUN. ― Borneo Post