PETALING JAYA: The Melaka election will be without the usual fanfare of ceramah and mass rallies, as the Health Ministry has banned all political gatherings in the state over Covid-19 concerns.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the ban on election-related gatherings would take effect from today until Nov 27.
Although the state election will have its own standard operating procedures (SOP) for the campaigning period which starts on Nov 8, Khairy said the Health Ministry was concerned that there would be plenty of political gatherings before that.
“The Election Commission will be announcing the SOP for the state election soon. However, these SOP will only take effect during the official campaigning period.
“The ministry is worried that there will be many political events prior to that which do not adhere to SOP.
“Due to that, the ministry has decided that starting Oct 25, all election-related events are prohibited. This includes party election machinery launch events,” said Khairy.
Khairy’s statement came in light of viral videos and photos of large political gatherings related to the Melaka election.
“As Melaka is in Phase 4, social gatherings are allowed according to the National Security Council’s SOP.
“However, as can be seen by recent gatherings, political parties, including mine, cannot observe SOP. In the interest of public health, all political gatherings will now not be allowed in Melaka,” he said.
He said the move was necessary as the risk of Covid-19 outbreaks in the country is still high.
“With the announcement of the Melaka state election, the ministry anticipates many social events related to the election will be held and will involve mass gatherings.
“As the risk of transmission of Covid-19 remains high, especially with the transmission of the Delta variant in the community and the growing number of new cases reported, these political activities will only further increase the likelihood of more infection outbreaks,” said Khairy.
The ban will be made under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342), which states that there should not be any mass gatherings of people under any phase of the National Recovery Plan.
He said any individual, organiser or organisation could be subject to compounds or prosecution in court if they were found guilty of committing offences under Act 342.
Nomination day for the Melaka election will be on Nov 8, with polling day set for Nov 20.