Some parties prefer to wait until EC makes decision on Batu Sapi

Stating the facts: Election Commission chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh replying to questions after an inspection of ballot boxes at the Sabah Cultural Hall in Kota Kinabalu. — Bernama

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah STAR is the latest party to opt out of contesting the Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election.

Its stand came after both Barisan Nasional and Parti Cinta Sabah said they would be sitting out the by-election to prevent more Covid-19 cases in Sabah.

The seat was declared vacant after its Member of Parliament Datuk Liew Vui Keong of Parti Warisan Sabah passed away due to a suspected lung infection on Oct 2.

STAR president Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said if a by-election were to be held, it would not contest.

“In fact, we have no intention of placing anyone for the Batu Sapi by-election because the 15th General Election (GE15) might be held soon anyway,” he said.

Jeffrey said for now, it was best to focus on Sabah and the new state Cabinet while making sure Covid-19 was contained.

As for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), it will only decide on whether to field a candidate after the Election Commission (EC) announces a date.

“As for now, there is no decision yet – we will wait for EC’s announcement first, then decide,” said its president Datuk Chin Su Phin.

He said when LDP was part of the Barisan coalition, the Batu Sapi seat was mainly allocated to Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).

“LDP has never contested in Batu Sapi,” he said.

Chin said his party would also want to see how the Covid-19 situation develops in the next two weeks before making any decision.

PBS president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said it was still too early to say whether it would be fielding anyone.

“The EC said it will need two months to talk on possible by-election dates, so we will wait,” he said.

Yesterday, Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said while it would leave it to the wisdom of the EC to decide on campaign periods and the polling date, prosperity and health must be a priority.

On the same day, PCS secretary-general Ansari Abdullah said his party would not contest in the Batu Sapi by-election as it could further spread Covid-19 once campaigning started.

PAS Youth also urged parties in the Muafakat Nasional pact and the Perikatan Nasional coalition, as well as parties across the political divide, to refrain from fielding candidates.

“Let the incumbent party win uncontested to prevent making the situation worse, as the number of Covid-19 cases had increased rapidly after the recent Sabah state election,” said PAS deputy youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari.

“Let it be the status quo for Batu Sapi, for the sake of public health.

“A by-election is not a priority now, as people’s lives are too precious to be put at stake,” he added.

EC chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh had reportedly said that the by-election could only be delayed if the area was declared a Covid-19 red zone.

He said the commission was bound by law to hold polls within 60 days following the death of its incumbent.

“So within 60 days, the EC needs to take action to fill that vacancy unless the government declares the Batu Sapi area a red zone, where the outbreak is so bad it cannot be controlled and there is an emergency.

“Only then can we consider postponing the by-election,” he said.

On online voting, Ghani said amendments would first need to be made to the law before this could be implemented.
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