Govt seeks experts’ views on Melaka election

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will seek the views of experts before deciding if a state election can be held in Melaka, says Senior Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

He said they would seek the views of the National Security Council (NSC), Election Commission (EC) and Health Ministry, with Sabah as a case reference.

“I will obtain the views of experts on the possible effects of holding a state election in Melaka.

“We went through a similar situation in Sabah and witnessed the implications. We need to consider this when deciding if Melaka should go to the polls.

“We do not want current or temporary political considerations to jeopardise the larger national agenda – which is to ensure the people’s safety during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“What happened in the Sabah state election must be considered,” he told reporters yesterday.

Hishammuddin said the EC would discuss the SOP for the Melaka state election with the NSC before bringing the matter to the country’s top leadership.

Meanwhile, public health experts said the state election, when it takes place, must be held with strict SOP in place and handled differently from the Sabah elections last year.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said an election risk management plan must be in place.

“We cannot use the Sabah elections as a benchmark because at that time, there was no vaccine.

“There are still concerns and risks when the Melaka elections are held,” he told Bernama yesterday.

Dr Zainal Ariffin said previously, the association had discussed and submitted a proposed elections SOP to the EC.

Among the SOP are reducing face-to-face campaigning and mass gatherings, expanding social media use as well as shortening the campaign period time and allowing only those who are fully vaccinated to campaign and vote.

Dr Zainal Ariffin added that the Melaka polls could also double as a “test lab” to see the effectiveness of the country’s vaccination programme.

Although almost 90% of the nation’s adult population is fully vaccinated, the risk of infection remains.

In Melaka, which is under Phase Three of the National Recovery Plan, this statistic stands at 88.5%.

Meanwhile, Universiti Putra Malaysia public health specialist Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman believes that the country is still in a critical situation and bringing the country out of the pandemic requires the commitment of everyone.

She said the dissolution of the state assembly was at an inopportune time as the people are going through a critical phase during the pandemic recovery period.

“We are facing the risk of recurring infection spread, similar to what happened in Sabah. It (the election) should be postponed and avoided,” she said.

The EC on Tuesday received official dissolution notification of the 14th Melaka Legislative Assembly.

This means that the state will have to hold a snap election within 60 days.

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