Malaysia govt may ask King to declare emergency to delay by-elections in Perak and Sabah

A Ministry of Health worker carrying a nose swab to a resident in house-to-house Covid-19 screening in Sandakan, Sabah. PHOTO: BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian government will consider advising the King to declare a state of emergency in Gerik in Perak and Bugaya in Sabah, which face by-elections, if the Covid-19 risk is high in the two seats, said minister Takiyuddin Hassan.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department said the country is facing another wave of Covid-19 infections following the Sabah state election.

He said that because of that, the Cabinet had decided that the Prime Minister should advise the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, to declare a state of emergency in Sabah's Batu Sapi parliamentary ward, which was scheduled to have a by-election on Dec 5.

"The same move will be considered for the Bugaya state seat and the Gerik parliamentary seat, based on a risk evaluation by the Health Ministry as well as the National Security Council, " said Datuk Takiyuddin during Ministerial Question Time on Tuesday (Nov 24) in Parliament, when replying to a query from Barisan Nasional's Member of Parliament Ahmad Maslan.

The Election Commission (EC) said on Tuesday it will hold a special meeting on Friday to discuss the Gerik and Bugaya by-elections.

Mr Takiyuddin said that among the reasons why the Batu Sapi by-election was cancelled was because the EC said it was facing a shortage of manpower, as many officers were worried about their health.

He added that only a handful were willing to be stationed there, following the high number of cases stemming from the Sabah state elections.

According to the EC, there are 32,962 voters in Batu Sapi, of whom 3,170 live outside the constituency, including in Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.

Mr Takiyuddin added that the Health Ministry had also said that it did not have enough manpower to station officers and health personnel to monitor Batu Sapi voting stations.

He argued that that the Declaration for a Proclamation of Emergency under Article 150(1) of the Federal Constitution for Batu Sapi did not go against democracy.

On Nov 18, the King agreed to declare a state of emergency in Batu Sapi to cancel the by-election.

The Batu Sapi parliamentary seat was declared vacant following the death of its MP Datuk Liew Vui Keong of Parti Warisan Sabah on Oct 2.

He is believed to have died due to a lung infection.

On Nov 16, Gerik MP Datuk Hasbullah Osman died after suffering a heart attack. The next day, Bugaya representative Manis Muka Mohd Darah of Parti Warisan Sabah also died, believed to be due to pre-existing ailments.

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