KUALA LUMPUR: The Sarawak state election will go ahead with enhanced standard operating procedures (SOP) following the emergence of the Omicron variant, says Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin.
"The Election Commission (EC), Health Ministry, National Security Council and state authorities are scrutinising and drafting Covid-19 preventive SOP," the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Parliament) said on Wednesday (Dec 1).
"The SOP will be improved taking into account the current Covid-19 situation and the experiences gained from the Sabah and Melaka state polls," she added in response to an emergency motion raised by Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (PH-Bandar Kuching) in the Dewan Rakyat's Special Chambers.
Dr Yii had earlier asked in the Dewan Rakyat if an Emergency Proclamation would be declared for Sarawak in light of Omicron's recent emergence.
On absentee voters being allowed to submit postal votes, Mas Ermieyati said only specific individuals could do so.
Among them, she said, were those taking part in managing the election process, police and army personnel, and members of the media covering the polls.
Mas Ermieyati also said there was not enough time for the EC to implement e-voting to allow those unable to return to cast their votes.
"How is it to be done in only three weeks?
"I had also tried to push for e-voting during the recent Melaka state polls," she said.
However, she added that the EC is studying e-voting and is expected to complete its findings by next year.
She noted that several factors such as cost, data security and educating voters had to be considered before e-voting is implemented.
The Sarawak legislative assembly's term was due to expire on June 7, after which the state election would have to be held within 60 days.
This was suspended due to the nationwide Emergency in effect at the time, and which was due to expire on Aug 1.
On July 30, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong proclaimed a localised Emergency for Sarawak from Aug 2 to Feb 2 to further suspend the state election and contain the spread of Covid-19.
However, the emergency was lifted on Nov 3, paving the way for the polls to be held before Jan 2.