KUCHING, July 28 ― The Election Commission (EC) requires a directive from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in order to issue standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the Sarawak election, said an EC spokesman.
When contacted today, the spokesman in Putrajaya said upon receiving the order from the PMO, the EC would refer to the National Security Council (NSC) for advice as it is not a council member but just a client.
“Any SOPs would have to be timely based on the current Covid-19 pandemic situation, but the 60-day allocation is long enough time for the NSC and EC to work on the SOPs if the Sarawak election is to be called,” he said.
The spokesman pointed out there were election SOPs for the Sabah snap polls held last September, despite the surge in Covid-19 cases that followed.
Yesterday, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the EC must first finalise its SOPs before the Sarawak government could even consider holding the state election.
The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chairman said apart from the EC’s election SOPs, the state government also has to consider the Covid-19 pandemic situation in Sarawak, and the health and safety of the people, especially voters.
GPS secretary-general Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi also said yesterday that GPS could agree with state Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen’s call for an Emergency Order to delay the state polls further due to Covid-19 dangers.
The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister said GPS has always maintained the position that the state election should only be held when it is safe to do so.
On Monday, Chong had urged the government to impose a localised Emergency Order for Sarawak to prevent the state election to be held within 60 days of the lifting of the national order on August 1, due to the number of people who have not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
De facto law minister Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan had told Parliament on Monday that the federal government has decided not to extend the period of Emergency and its accompanying Ordinances after August 1.
The term of the current State Legislative Assembly (DUN) ended on June 6 but due to the Emergency Order enforced in January this year, the Sarawak government postponed the polls and the assembly’s term was extended.
Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar explained yesterday that the DUN will automatically be dissolved at midnight on August 1, 2021, unless the Prime Minister, after consulting with the Sarawak governor and Chief Minister, advises the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to declare an Emergency in the state. ― Borneo Post