Sarawak indigenous group urges rural folks to bar all politicians, campaigners if state polls is held

Society for Rights of Indigenous People of Sarawak secretary-general Michael Jok (right) in his longhouse in Ulu Belaga district.

MIRI: The Society for Rights of Indigenous People of Sarawak (SCRIPS) is calling on rural folks to bar politicians and campaigners if the 12th Sarawak state elections is held amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

SCRIPS secretary-general Michael Jok said the one million rural folks in longhouses and villages throughout Sarawak have a customary rights to stop anyone, including politicians, from coming in.

He said the customary rights come from the traditional "adat" that the natives adhere to.

"Our longhouse and village adat is our traditional customary laws. It spells out what we can do within the boundary of our communities.

"It governs good conduct to safeguard the interest and welfare of the local population.

"Under the customary laws, we can bar anyone from coming if their presence jeopardises the peace and safety of the locals.

"If the ruling state government calls for state elections now, we will use this law to bar all of them from entering the longhouses and villages," he said in an interview.

Jok said holding a state polls now was tantamount to causing health threats to the people.

He said SCRIPS members are all over rural Sarawak and would call upon the one million rural folks to exercise their customary rights.

"We urge Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) ruling coalition not to dissolve the state legislative assembly next month as widely speculated.

"GPS can wait until the middle of next year.

"We do not want an explosion of Covid-19 infections in Sarawak, as seen during the recent Sabah state elections," he said.

Indications are that GPS will dissolve the state assembly midway during the coming session scheduled from Nov 9 to Nov 18.

This will pave the way for the Election Commission to fix nomination and balloting within 60 days from the date of dissolution.

The current term only expires in June next year.

GPS controls 68 of the 82 state constituencies.

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