SOP for Chini by-election to set benchmark

EC chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun. – Bernama

PUTRAJAYA: The Chini by-election, to be held on July 4, will serve as a benchmark to hold other by-elections, as well as the general election, during a pandemic situation in the country, says the Election Commission (EC).

Its chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun said they were preparing the standard operating procedure (SOP) to protect the health and safety of all parties, including voters.

“The Chini by-election will be conducted using the new SOP.

“In the event other elections were to be held with the Covid-19 pandemic still not over, the SOP will be applicable, ” he told Bernama TV in his office here.

Azhar said the SOP would be improved from time to time, depending on the situation and circumstances.

The SOP, which was presented during an engagement with the Health Ministry, National Security Council, National Disaster Management Agency and the police, covers the seven election processes, namely nomination day, printing of ballot papers, sending of postal ballot papers, early voting day, campaign period, polling day and announcement of the results.

“We discussed twice with them, on May 8 and May 21, on this special SOP but it has yet to be finalised.

“It is subject to the government’s directive on the Covid-19 pandemic, ” he said.

He said the EC’s approach was based on one of the main goals of ensuring the safety and health of voters, taking into account the risk of Covid-19 infection.

On whether the election workers would be required to go for a swab test, Azhar said it would not be made compulsory but they would be required to take their body temperature, clean their hands with sanitisers and maintain social distancing at the nomination centre and vote counting centre.

The EC has set the nomination for the Chini by-election on June 20, with early voting on June 30 and polling on July 4.

The Chini by-election was called after Umno’s Datuk Seri Abu Bakar Harun died of a heart attack on May 6. — Bernama

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