Covid-19: Security council to study proposed stricter SOPs for Batu Sapi by-election in Sabah

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said both the government and Election Commission did not have the authority to postpone the election.
Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said both the government and Election Commission did not have the authority to postpone the election.PHOTO: ISMAIL SABRI YAAKOB/FACEBOOK

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The National Security Council (NSC) will study proposed standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be in place for the Batu Sapi by-election, with strict measures to be in place due to raging Covid-19 cases in Sabah, says Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The Defence Minister explained that the government, as well as the Election Commission (EC) have no authority to postpone the election as the Federal Constitution stipulates that the seat must be filled within 60 days after it is left vacant.

"We are aware and we understand the concerns of voters. We were told that even election staff are apprehensive to be on duty as the number of Covid-19 cases are on the rise.

"But there is no choice but to proceed with the by-election, " he said on Tuesday (Oct 27).

He said the EC will be presenting its proposed SOPs for the by-election to the council sometime this week, which has to be stricter to avoid new cases being recorded.

He said the EC needs to look into ways how voter movement and contact with one another can be minimised, especially during polling.

Polling date for the Batu Sapi by-election has been set for Dec 5 while nomination day is on Nov 23.

The EC had already set several conditions for the campaign period, including not allowing direct, house-to-house campaigning, walkabouts and ceramah.

The Batu Sapi seat fell vacant following the death of Datuk Liew Vui Keong on Oct 2, believed to be due to lung infection.

Several parties, including Barisan Nasional, Parti Bersatu Sabah, Pakatan Harapan and Parti Cinta Sabah have opted out of contesting the seat.