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Monday, November 30, 2020

Govt to consider emergency if Gerik, Bugaya face Covid-19 risks

PARLIAMENT | The government will consider proposing an emergency declaration in Gerik, Perak and Bugaya, Sabah, which are facing upcoming by-elections, if these constituencies are at risk of Covid-19 transmission, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Parliament and Law) Takiyuddin Hassan said that the decision would be made after referring the matter to the Health Ministry and the National Security Council (NSC).

“As we know, this matter is stipulated under the provisions of Article 150 (1) of the Federal Constitution, which is allowed if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that a state of emergency can be declared in an area or the whole of Malaysia.

“This includes what was done in the Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency in Sabah where the Yang di-Pertuan Agong made a proclamation of emergency for the constituency, in effect cancelling the by-election for the seat.

“The same move is expected to be considered by the government if the Gerik parliamentary and Bugaya state constituencies face the same risks,” Takiyuddin said when winding-up the debate on the Supply Bill 2021 at the committee level for the Prime Minister’s Department.

On Nov 18, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah made a proclamation of emergency for Batu Sapi, which in turn cancelled the by-election set for Dec 5.

On Nov 27, the Election Commission (EC) announced that the by-elections for the Gerik parliamentary seat and Bugaya state seat would be held simultaneously on Jan 16, 2021.

Responding to a question from Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil (Pakatan Harapan-Lembah Pantai), who wanted to know whether the government would declare a state of emergency in Sarawak if the Sarawak state assembly is dissolved, Takiyuddin said the government would consider the matter when the time comes.

On the question of preparing for the election in a new normal environment, Takiyuddin said that in preparation, the EC had identified the election officials and started briefings and training for those involved.

He said that the briefing and training covered a new electoral process involving guidelines or standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infection.

The EC has also obtained additional Covid-19 prevention equipment such as personal protective equipment (PPE), hand sanitiser, thermal scanners and so on, apart from collaborating with agencies related to the prevention of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the Health Ministry and NSC, he added.

- Bernama

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