Masing wants stricter guidelines for Sarawak polls, including a ban on face-to-face campaigns

James Masing – Pix from FMT

By Emma Victoria

TAN SRI James Masing has called on the Health Ministry and Election Commission to work on stricter guidelines for the 12th Sarawak state election if the emergency ends on Aug 1.

He said the whole country, including Sarawak, is not out of the woods yet when the emergency ends on Aug 1, however, the state polls must be held within 60 days – which will put Sarawak in a real political and social conundrum.

“The herd immunity or vaccination of 80% of the population we hope to achieve is not attainable (as Sarawak targets to complete it by Aug 31,” he said in the statement today.

“To me, the practice of parliamentary democracy at the time of a health crisis, is not necessarily the best for the people.”

“But the laws say once an emergency is lifted – democracy can be practised and parliament can sit and elections may be held if required. And we have to follow the law, thus, the state polls will be held within 60 days once the emergency ends.”

Therefore, to ensure the safety and health of the people, Masing suggested to prohibit face to face campaigns, shorten the period between the nomination and the polling dates, increase polling centres and operation hours, especially in the rural areas to ensure social distancing is practised.

“When these measures are implemented, low turnout of voters is expected. But in the end we have a government which has the mandate of our people.”

“Thus we maintain the rule of law by maintaining the practice of parliamentary democracy and at the same time, reduce the risk of getting infected by Covid-19.”