Malaysia postpones two more by-elections amid pandemic

PUTRAJAYA • Malaysia's King yesterday gave his consent for an emergency to be declared in two constituencies in Perak and Sabah, to postpone by-elections in the two seats.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the Cabinet had presented its views to the King on the polls in Gerik (Perak) and Bugaya (Sabah), which were slated to be held simultaneously on Jan 16.

This was the third postponement of a by-election, with Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah previously declaring a local emergency to delay polls for the Batu Sapi parliamentary seat in Sabah.

"The Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King) has given his consent for an emergency to be declared for both by-elections," Tan Sri Muhyiddin said in a statement.

"On Dec 4, the Cabinet discussed... the consequences of holding the Gerik and Bugaya by-elections if the Covid-19 pandemic was still widespread in the country. Learning from the lesson of the (virus) outbreak that was brought about by the Sabah by-election (in September), the Cabinet feels that these two by-elections should be avoided, due to health, livelihood and public order factors."

In declaring the Batu Sapi emergency, officials said life would go on as usual in the ward with the health protocols in place, with only the by-election postponed.

The Gerik federal Parliament seat became vacant after its incumbent MP Datuk Hasbullah Osman died of a heart attack on Nov 16. The following day, Madam Manis Muka Mohd Darah, who represented the Bugaya state seat, died due to kidney complications.

The Batu Sapi federal seat was declared vacant following the death of former minister in the Prime Minister's Department Liew Vui Keong on Oct 2.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2020, with the headline Malaysia postpones two more by-elections amid pandemic. Subscribe