Sarawak election must be held despite Covid-19, says Masing

Tan Sri James Masing (NSTP PIC)

By Emma Victoria

DEPUTY Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing said the Covid-19 pandemic is not going to stop Sarawak from holding its 12th State election in accordance with the law of the land.

He said the state election could still be held as long as the the standard operating procedure (SOP) is strictly adhered to.

“Covid-19 is a factor but there are countries that have held their elections during this pandemic. One is Singapore, another is South Korea and recently, New Zealand.

“They held their elections with no problem provided that the pandemic SOP was strictly followed,” he said as reported by Bernama.

Asked about concerns among the people that the State could face the same fate as Sabah which saw the surge in Covid-19 cases after its Sept 26 election, Masing said the state government has no choice as the state legislative will automatically dissolve in June next year and Sarawak will not have any government.

Masing, who is also State Minister for Infrastructure and Port Development, was met by reporters after officiating at the ground-breaking ceremony for ‘Package A: Construction and Completion of the Proposed Jalan Sungai Bidut/Kampung Sebedil/Kampung Bungan Kecil’ in Bawang Assan.

The Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) President said he did not know of any provision which could allow an election to be delayed.

He added that the decision to call for a dissolution of the State Assembly to pave the way for an election is with the Chief Minister.

On who Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) would field to contest in Bawang Assan in the State election, Masing said it would depend on who Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) would nominate and endorsed by Abang Johari.

He said whoever it would be, the constituents must give their full support for changes to be made there after they had been neglected for so long in terms of infrastructure development.

For GPS, the Bawang Assan State seat had traditionally been allocated to SUPP and the incumbent now is Parti Sarawak Bersatu president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh, who reportedly will be defending the seat in the next election.

Wong won the seat when contesting for the first time as SUPP candidate in the 1996 State polls and had never lost and won it again in 2016 even after he had parted with SUPP due to internal issues and formed United People’s Party (UPP), a Barisan Nasional-friendly party.

Meanwhile, on the 21.7km road project costing more than RM104.5 million, Masing said once completed in November next year, it would provide connectivity for Kampung Tutus, Kampung Sebedil and Kampung Bungan Kecil to Sibu town.

He added that Package B of the project would involve the construction of a 16km road costing RM200 million connecting the area with the 1.38km Igan Bridge, which is under construction in Igan, Mukah at a cost of RM285 million.