Wan Junaidi: Monsoon season, Covid-19 may affect timing of Sarawak polls

  • Nation
  • Friday, 16 Oct 2020

KUCHING: The coming monsoon season and ongoing Covid-19 surge are factors which could affect the timing of the next Sarawak state election, says a senior PBB lawmaker.

Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said it was important to learn from past experiences of holding elections during the year-end monsoon.

"We are going to face the 'landas' (monsoon) season very soon. Personally I would look into history to see whether we ever had the election during that time, what were the problems we faced and are likely to face again if we have it during 'landas'," he told reporters after chairing a Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) liaison committee meeting at his service centre here on Friday (Oct 16).

Only one state election in Sarawak has been held at the end of the year, the 1983 polls which took place on Dec 28-29.

That election was held at the peak of the monsoon season and saw a turnout of 72.56%.

Wan Junaidi said the Covid-19 situation was another issue, especially after the current spike was largely blamed on the recent Sabah state election.

However, with the Sarawak legislative assembly's current term due to expire in June 2021, he said there was not much time left before the election had to be called.

"If you look at Covid-19 and what happened in Sabah, it looked really bad. Still, we cannot compare ourselves with Sabah for the reason that our term of office is nearly expiring. So we actually have few options. We must have an election," he said.

Asked if a health emergency could be declared in order to delay the polls due to Covid-19, Wan Junaidi said he did not think this would be required.

"An emergency is associated with defence and security matters. By precedent, health has never been seen to be an emergency declared by any country in the world in order to avoid constitutional duties.

"And I don't really like (having an) emergency for the reason that it suspends Parliament and the constitution. That means we are at the mercy of the people who administer the country," he said.

Wan Junaidi added that Covid-19 could be handled provided everyone worked together.

"If we practise physical distancing, wear face masks and avoid crowded places, we can stop Covid-19. Therefore, it is not the kind of thing that we can consider an emergency," he said.

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