Emergency declared in Gerik, Bugaya

PUTRAJAYA: Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has assented to an emergency to be declared in Gerik, Perak, and Bugaya, Sabah, thus postponing the by-elections for the two seats.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Cabinet had presented their views to the King on the by-elections, which were scheduled to be held simultaneously on Jan 16.

“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong has given his consent for an emergency to be declared, for both by-elections, ” Muhyiddin said in a statement yesterday.

He said the Cabinet had, on Dec 4, discussed in detail the consequences of holding the Gerik and Bugaya by-elections if Covid-19 was still widespread in the country.

“Learning from the lesson of the Covid-19 outbreak that was brought about by the Sabah election, the Cabinet feels that these two by-elections should be avoided, due to health, livelihood and public order factors, ” said Muhyiddin.

Separately, the Election Commission (EC) said in a statement that it agreed with the decision to postpone the two by-elections.

“Another date will be set for the by-election, ” said EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh.

Previously, the King had also assented to the declaration of a state of emergency in the Batu Sapi parliamentary seat, which was due to have a by-election on Dec 5, over Covid-19 concerns.

The Batu Sapi seat was declared vacant following the death of its incumbent, former minister in the prime minister’s department Datuk Seri Liew Vui Keong, on Oct 2.

As for the Gerik by-election, it was triggered by the death of its MP Datuk Hasbullah Osman, who died of a heart attack in Raub, Pahang, on Nov 16.

The following day, Bugaya assemblyman Manis Muka Mohd Darah died after suffering kidney complications.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor described it as a wise decision considering the pandemic.

“We want to stop this Covid-19 spread, to flatten the curve, and most importantly, to save lives, ” he said in a statement yesterday.

In a separate statement, Sabah Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin echoed the same sentiment, declaring it apt in view of the current situation.

“Sabah Barisan and Sabah Umno welcome the declaration which will see the postponement of the Bugaya by-election, ” said the state Umno chief, who reiterated that Barisan had already made known previously its intent of not participating in the Bugaya by-election should it take place.

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