SIBU: The Sarawak government should not hold elections now when the Covid-19 pandemic has not fully abated, but instead work on implementing postal voting for all Sarawakians living outside the state, says an assemblyman.
David Wong Kee Woan, who is also Sarawak DAP deputy president, said an increasing number of sources have indicated the likelihood of the state polls being held in November.
In view of this, he urged Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to put an end to this speculation and announce that the election will not be held this year.
Wong, the assemblyman for Pelawan, urged the state government to wait until February, when the localised Emergency Order (EO) is expected to be lifted, before calling an election.
He said it should use the EO as an opportunity to meet with the Election Commission and discuss ways of implementing postal voting for all Sarawakians residing outside the state instead of just a select few groups.
“Forcing Sarawakians currently living outside the state to come back (for an election) would not only be costly but also exhausting.
"In a time of pandemic, the need to implement postal votes for all Sarawakians is more important than ever,” he said on Friday (Oct 22).
“Although the daily number of new Covid-19 cases has decreased over the weeks, this is mainly (because) the number of tests has been reduced drastically.
"The positive rate in Sarawak as of yesterday (Thursday, Oct 21) as reported by the CovidNow portal is 12.0%, and the pandemic is still severe in the state,” he said.
Wong pointed out that judging by many Covid-19 indicators, such as deaths, hospital admissions, ICU bed utilisation and positive rate, the pandemic in Sarawak is still at a level that makes it unsafe to hold a state election.
“In the last 14 days, a total of 790 deaths have been recorded in Malaysia, 150 of which are from Sarawak. People are most worried about unvaccinated teenagers and especially the elderly, who make up more than three-quarters of the deaths in the state.
“These groups are still in the process of getting their vaccination, whether first or second shots for the teenagers, or booster shots for the elderly.
"The state government should ensure that there is enough time for these groups to be vaccinated (before holding an election).
"People are worried that they might bring the virus back to their homes and infect their family members, especially the unvaccinated group,” he added.
“Sarawak's Budget 2022 has already been approved and the government can proceed to implement its plans.
"It should be focusing on getting people back on their feet and helping the state's economy to recover,” he said.