PUTRAJAYA: Candidates in the Gerik and Bugaya by-elections will not be allowed to conduct ceramah, walkabouts or house-to-house visits, as part of the Election Commission (EC)’s Covid-19 prevention measures.
Instead, candidates of the two by-elections are encouraged to reach out to their voters via social media, said EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh.
He said both by-elections will be guided by the Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP) that was applied at the Sabah 12th state election, with several improvements.
“All campaigning activities involving ceramah, talks, house to house visits, walkabouts and pamphlet giveaways that are done face-to-face are not permitted.
“Candidates are encouraged to campaign using social media and they will be allowed to put up banners at election areas.
“Campaigning using vehicles that are equipped with loudspeakers will be allowed, but at reasonable hours. However, the activity cannot cause a gathering of supporters,” said Abdul Ghani in a statement.
In a special meeting held yesterday, the EC decided the by-elections for the Gerik parliamentary seat in Perak and the Bugaya state assembly seat in Sabah will be held simultaneously next year.
Jan 16 had been set as the polling date, while nomination will be on Jan 4, which is a Monday.
EC estimates the Gerik by-election to cost RM5.8mil, while the Bugaya by-election would cost RM4.7mil.
The by-elections were triggered following the recent deaths of Gerik MP Datuk Hasbullah Osman and Bugaya assemblyman Manis Muka Mohd Darah.
Hasbullah of Umno had won the Gerik seat during the 14th General Election with a majority of 5,528 in a three-way fight against PAS and PKR.
Hasbullah passed away following a heart attack on Nov 16.
Manis, of Parti Warisan Sabah, won the Bugaya seat during the Sabah election on Sept 26 with a 7,851 majority in a six-cornered fight. She passed away due to suspected kidney failure on Nov 17.
Bugaya is within the Semporna parliamentary constituency.
Questions remain on whether the two by-elections will be held, following a declaration of an emergency by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah to postpone the Batu Sapi by-election that was scheduled for Dec 5.
The decision was made in light of the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
The Batu Sapi by-election was called following the death of its incumbent, former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Liew Vui Keong on Oct 2.
He died due to complications from a lung infection.
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