KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet will discuss ways to prevent ministers from using official events as a ruse to campaign during the coming Melaka state polls, said Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
"I will bring it up during the next Cabinet meeting so that ministers do not circumvent the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the National Security Council and Health Ministry which will be implemented by the Election Commission (EC)," the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Parliament and Law) said when responding to a question by Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PH-Bandar Baru Kulim) in Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Oct 26).
Saifuddin wanted an assurance that official ministerial events are not used by the respective ministers to campaign during the Melake state polls.
He said that there should not be "double standards" in the implementation of the SOP during the 11-day campaign period.
Saifuddin also questioned why political gatherings and door-to-door campaigning were not allowed during the state polls when most social and economic activities are now permitted in Melaka.
On Sunday (Oct 24) Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said political gatherings would not be allowed from Oct 25 to Nov 27 during Melaka state polls.
The ban comes in light of concerns that large political gatherings and events could result in a repeat of what happened during the Sabah state polls last year which resulted in a spike in Covid-19 cases.
Meanwhile, Wan Junaidi said that he could not give a guarantee to Saifuddin that there will not be any political gatherings or activities despite the SOP.
"Look at Sabah, we had the SOP but yet the rakyat gathered and political parties also did so.
We cannot give an assurance against political activist who carry out political activities," he said.
The Melaka state government collapsed on Oct 4 after Melaka’s former chief minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron announced that he and three other assemblymen – Pantai Kundor’s Datuk Nor Azman Hassan (Umno), Telok Mas’ Noor Effandi Ahmad (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia) and Datuk Norhizam Hassan Baktee (Independent) – withdrew their support for chief minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali.
This paved the way for state polls to be held within 60 days of the dissolution of the Melaka State Legislative Assembly.
Before the dissolution of the 28-seat Melaka state assembly, Umno had 13 seats, followed by Bersatu’s two, and two Independents.
The Opposition is made up of seven assemblymen from DAP, two from PKR and two from Amanah.
The Melaka state polls will be held on Nov 20 and nomination day will be on Nov 8.
Earlier, to a reply to Steven Choong (IND-Tebrau), Wan Junaidi said the EC is currently drafting improved SOP for the state polls which will be announced on Nov 7.
Choong raised concerns over large movements of people during the state polls which may turn into a carnival and holiday for voters returning to cast their ballot.
Wan Junaidi said with the decision to go ahead with the state polls, it was important to strike a balance between the EC's aspirations of seeing a vibrant democracy in practice through the polls and health and safety concerns raised by the Health Ministry.