EC told to mind its business and not give opinions on when polls should be held

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah – Picture from New Sarawak Tribune

By Emma Victoria

THE Election Commission (EC) was told to keep to its role of conducting elections in a free and fair manner instead of telling the government “when is the right time to hold elections”.

Sarawak’s Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah reminded the EC that the parliament and state legislative assemblies have a maximum mandate of five years.

“Our state assembly’s mandate will expire in few months’ time, so we must hold our election (before June).

“The election is going to take place… so I don’t think it is appropriate for the EC to tell us whether or not it is the right time to call for an election now,” he told reporters at a press conference today.

Yesterday, EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh said it was not the right time now to hold a general or state election as the country is still battling Covid-19.

Abdul Ghani said this when responding to reports that Sarawak may call for a state election in the near future.

He also said maintaining public health safety during a pandemic was no easy task.

Karim said he was confident that a state election can be held without a surge in Covid-19 cases if everyone adhered to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) as Singapore managed to have their election during the pandemic without creating a new wave of Covid-19 cases.

“So instead of commenting about when the state election should be held, the EC should look at ensuring full compliance by political parties, candidates as well as supporters and voters in following the SOPs, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing,” he said.