PUTRAJAYA • The polling date for Malaysia's Batu Sapi by-election in Sabah has been set for Dec 5, the country's Election Commission announced yesterday.
Election Commission chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh said a special meeting had fixed Nomination Day for Nov 23. Early voting to elect a new lawmaker for the parliamentary ward in Sabah is on Dec 1.
Datuk Abdul Ghani said direct, house-to-house campaigning, walkabouts and ceramah (political rally) would not be allowed during the campaign period to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further.
Sabah is currently under movement restrictions for two weeks until Oct 26 because of a surge in Covid-19 cases, following an outbreak at a detention centre for illegal migrants.
"We encourage candidates for this by-election to campaign via social media platforms, as direct campaigning exposes those involved to the virus," Mr Abdul Ghani said.
During the 12-day campaign, candidates can operate only one command centre and mini operation centres will not be allowed.
Mr Abdul Ghani also said that the Election Commission could not postpone the by-election.
"The Federal Constitution stipulates that the commission must hold an election within 60 days after it falls vacant. This can only be postponed if the government declares an emergency," he said.
"On our part, we can raise the issue and make recommendations if the Covid-19 pandemic turns for the worst. But it has to be the government that makes the decision."
The commission chairman added that the by-election would require an allocation of more than RM5 million (S$1.6 million) due to the pandemic. There are nearly 33,000 registered voters in Batu Sapi.
The Batu Sapi seat fell vacant following the death of Mr Liew Vui Keong on Oct 2, believed to be due to a lung infection.
The former minister in the Prime Minister's Department had earlier been admitted to the Jesselton Medical Centre for a slipped disc prior to the Sept 12 nomination day for Sabah state elections, and was transferred to the Gleneagles Hospital for further medical attention. His condition took a turn for the worse when he was diagnosed with a lung infection.
Barisan Nasional has said that it will not contest the Batu Sapi by-election to prevent further spread of Covid-19. Parti Cinta Sabah has also declared that it will not contest in the upcoming election.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK