KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 ― The blanket ban on political gatherings for the Melaka election campaign will be enforced equally on all parties whether they are pro-government or in the Opposition, Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said in the Dewan Rakyat today.
The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament) was responding to Kulim Bandar Baharu MP Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail who sought an assurance from the government that it would apply the law equally on all political parties campaigning in next month’s Melaka state election.
The Pakatan Harapan lawmaker suggested the possibility that politicians with the ruling government may attempt to circumvent the ban and meet with constituents to garner support through “official” functions, pointing out that the Opposition would be at a disadvantage when they are prohibited from organising any forms of gatherings related to political campaigning.
“What we do not wish for is a double standard. When the government organises, they use the National Security Council’s SOPs. When we organise, they use the Election Commission’s SOPs.
“This will create tension and uncontrolled anger. I want to pre-empt the minister. So I want a thorough explanation from YB. If allowed, say it's allowed and if it's disallowed, say it's disallowed,” Saifuddin Nasution said during the Minister’s Question Time.
As Melaka is currently under Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), official government events are allowed for individuals who have obtained their full vaccination while subjected to the event’s space capacity and physical distancing measures.
Wan Junaidi replied that the authorities apply the law equally on all, but added that he will still discuss this issue at the next Cabinet meeting.
“Actually we do not practise double standards... and I am speaking on behalf of the Election Commission, NSC and the Health Ministry.
“But for now, I cannot give a guarantee about the political activism that is set to take place. But I take note of YB’s question and I will raise this in the next Cabinet meeting to ask ministers to not circumvent the SOPs by KKM and NSC,” he said.
NSC refers to the National Security Council, which still issues regulations Covid-19 while KKM refers to the Health Ministry by its Malay initials.
On October 24, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced the prohibition of all activities, gatherings or social meetings related to political campaigning for the Melaka polls to prevent the coronavirus from surging again, citing the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, also known as Act 342.
Yesterday, a top Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) leader also expressed concerns over political parties, especially election candidates, using social gatherings as an alternative to approach voters if a total ban on political gatherings ahead of the Melaka state election persists.
Wan Junaidi also said the government had opted for the middle path so that the democratic process can take place while at the same time safeguarding voters from congregating en masse during polling day.
This as he pointed out there were two opposing views that exist, one which emphasised the vibrancy of the democratic process and one that prioritised on the safety of the populace.
Thus, Wan Junaidi said an SOP is being drawn up by the EC which took account of the views proposed by the Health Ministry and NSC that benefited both sides of the divide.
He was responding to Tebrau MP Steven Choong Shiau Yoon on the measures to be taken in the Melaka election to prevent the increase of Covid-19 cases as had happened during the Sabah state election last year.