No choice but to hold Sarawak election, says Minister

Talib Zulpilip – Picture from New Sarawak Tribune

By John Isaac

HOLDING the 12th state election under strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) might be difficult but there is no other choice as the state government’s term of office expires in June this year.

Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talib Zulpilip explained that the SOPs must be strictly adhered to, so Sarawak can hold its state polls smoothly and at the same time, protect the health of the people.

He was commenting on the Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh’s recent remark that the state polls could still be held even during the recovery movement control order (RMCO) period, provided that all parties work together and comply with the new norms and the Covid-19 prevention guidelines.

“With respect to the statement made by Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh on holding the election during the RMCO which has been extended to March 31, there are many views on it.

“Some viewed that it is doable for Sarawak to hold the election during RMCO, while others opined the election should wait until Covid-19 is over.

“Holding the coming state election requires extra measures or precautions. In conducting campaigns, there is a need to strictly follow the SOPs. This might be difficult but there is no choice,” he told New Sarawak Tribune today.

He added that social media was expected to take greater prominence in campaigning for election.

Additionally, he said another important area to look into for the state polls was the polling process itself.

“Social distancing must be strictly enforced. We trust the EC will come up with the appropriate measures as well, to complement the SOPs prescribed by the Ministry of Health.

“Other measures that need to be looked at are to limit or stop campaigners from high risk areas into the state. The provision of quarantine must be enforced for those who come to Sarawak,” he added.