Appeal to relax polls SOP


MELAKA: Caught by surprise over the ban on election-related gatherings, many leaders across the political divide are hoping they would be able to get the Health Ministry to reverse its decision.

While hoping to appeal against the ban, effective from yesterday until Nov 27, they say they will have no choice but to bring the battle fully online should they fail to get the ruling revised.

Melaka caretaker chief minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali, from Umno, said some party election directors hoped to appeal against the ban as they were disappointed at not being able to have small-scale political gatherings or door-to-door campaigning.

“Hopefully, the rules for campaigning will be relaxed somewhat. But if not, we will still respect the rules,” he said.

On Sunday, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced the ban, adding that although the state election would have its own standard operating procedure for the campaigning period, which would start only on Nov 8, his 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, the SOP will only take effect during the official campaigning period,” he said.

Nominations for the Melaka election have been set for Nov 8 while polling is on Nov 20.

The polls were triggered following the dissolution of the Melaka state assembly after Sungai Udang assemblyman Datuk Seri Idris Haron led three other assemblymen to withdraw support for Sulaiman.

Melaka PAS chief Datuk Kamarudin Sidek said small gatherings and house-to-house visits were important for his party to reach out to the elderly electorate.

“Many elderly voters don’t have electronic gadgets and it is difficult for us to woo them,” he said.

The party, he said, could only target young voters via social media.

“Hence I appeal for the ban to be lifted so we can reach senior voters,” he added.

The state Parti Amanah Negara communication director, Zairi Suboh, said he would have to assemble his team to strengthen the online campaign following the ban.

“We are not in favour of the ban but we are left with no choice but to tap into digital platforms to convey our messages to voters.

“We may maximise the use of the TikTok app as it seems more effective and also work closely with the mainstream media,” he said.

Melaka Gerakan chairman Datuk Seri Gan Peng Lam said his machinery had gone digital since early this year.

“We have shifted our focus to digital platforms although we want traditional election campaigns to woo our supporters,” said Gan, whose party is formerly with Barisan Nasional but is now part of the Perikatan Nasional coalition.

Melaka DAP election director Khoo Poay Tiong said he feels there should not be a blanket ban as it would affect the spirit of the election.

“We cannot solely depend on virtual platforms to campaign and that’s why DAP was against the state election from day one,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Melaka coalition of independents, which is eyeing to contest all 28 seats, said the ban was the right move.

The coalition’s campaign director, K. Murali Krishna, said coalition chairman Aziah Harun was the first person to voice concerns on the emergence of the Delta variant in the state and had even suggested refraining from contesting in the upcoming state election.

“We commend the Health Minister for his bold move. We, the new kid on the block, have decided to adopt technology as part of our strategy for the state election.

“We have collected details of voters and are trying to connect directly with them by sending voice messages to remind them to reject greedy politicians,” he added.

However, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia information chief Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan suggested Putrajaya revise the SOP set for the Melaka polls.

“This is necessary as the information disseminated to the voters will reach them more effectively,” he said.

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