S’wak polls SOP to be sharpened over Omicron concerns

PETALING JAYA: The Sarawak state polls will go ahead with an improved standard operating procedure amid concerns about the Omicron variant, says Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin.

According to the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, the SOP would be enhanced, taking into account the current Covid-19 situation and the experiences gained from the Sabah and Melaka state polls.

“The Election Commission (EC), Health Ministry, National Security Council and authorities in Sarawak are scrutinising and drafting the Covid-19 preventive SOP,” she said, in response to an emergency motion raised by Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (PH-Bandar Kuching) at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Dr Yii had asked whether an Emergency Proclamation would be declared for Sarawak in view of the Omicron variant which had been detected in a number of countries.

The Sarawak assembly’s term was to have expired on June 7, after which the state election must be held within 60 days. However, this was suspended due to the nationwide Emergency that was eventually lifted on Aug 2.

On July 30, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong proclaimed a localised Emergency for Sarawak from Aug 2 to Feb 2 next year 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 next year.

On absentee voters being allowed to cast postal votes, Mas Ermieyati said that only specific personnel were allowed to do so.

Mas Ermieyati also said that there was insufficient time for the EC to implement e-voting for those who are unable to return.

However, she said that the EC was studying the use of e-voting and is expected to complete its findings next year.

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