The sharp increase in Covid-19 cases after the Sabah State Election on Sept 26 last year will definitely serve as a lesson to the government in facing the upcoming Melaka State Election on Nov 20, 2021.
The government's move to ban any form of election-related rallies effective Oct 25 until Nov 27 is not intended to restrict the Constitutional rights of the country's democratic system but is simply intended to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection and an increase in cases.
Unfortunately, this effort has been misunderstood and the opposition wasted no time in seizing the opportunity to distort and politicise it. We do not want another increase in cases similar to the post-Sabah election spike to recur. We have come this far and it is unlikely that we want a repeat of total lockdowns again.
Indeed, through the current National Recovery Plan (NRP), more and more sectors are being allowed to reopen and operate. Even interstate activities have been allowed since Oct 11.
However, these should not be used as a guide or reference to enable face-to-face or physical campaign activities to be conducted.
This is a State Election and not a General Election. Thus, it is only natural and expected that heaps of party machinery from throughout the country will be concentrated in Melaka.
This situation will grow more complicated if a 'Melaka Elections Cluster' breaks out resulting in its spread to all corners of the country after the election concludes.
As per the data shared by the Health Director General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on Oct 25, the R-naught (Rt) rate of Covid-19 in the country climbed to 0.88 from 0.87 recorded a day earlier.
A void of physical election campaign activities does not mean party candidates have no other choice of campaign methods.
For almost two years we have implemented virtual meetings or discussions.
Thus, there are no problems for us to carry out the same for this Melaka election campaign.
The fact remains that there are a variety of approaches to campaign without the need for activities involving physical rallies.
I am confident that political parties have already formulated their strategies to face this election in the new normal.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) needs to play a role in monitoring every aspect of campaigns that will be executed by the political parties during this state election.
This monitoring should cover the campaign content which must not touch on sensitivities that can lead to racial strife.
The MCMC must also monitor political parties which deploy slander as campaign fodder to run down each other.
Social media will definitely become the main medium of campaigning during this election.
Therefore, MCMC needs to be more assertive and impose the appropriate action on those who abuse this platform to spread defamatory or fake news.
Politicians should also be more mature in politics and not resort to dirty tactics to snare people's ballots.
If the elected candidates are truly qualified to represent the voice of the people, they will surely be the choice of the voters irrespective of medium used.
RYAN HO KWOK XHENG
MCA Youth Spokesperson