By John Isaac
SARAWAK Pakatan Harapan is of the view that the state election should only be held after most of the people in the country are vaccinated for the Covid-19.
State Harapan chief Chong Chieng Jen told Malaysiakini that it is irresponsible for the state government to raise this issue when the Covid-19 cases in Sarawak had increased drastically recently.
This came after Deputy Chief Minister James Jemut Masing said they are planning to appeal to the king to lift the emergency and pave the way for the state election if the pandemic is manageable in Sarawak.
Chong pointed out that during the weeks before the Sabah state election last year, the state’s daily new cases were in two digits, but the numbers surged after the polls.
“And now we have daily new cases in three digits in Sarawak, hence it’s inappropriate to talk about the election, which will risk lives.
“The Sarawak State Assembly still has six months to be dissolved automatically. We have always believed that the state election could not be held until the vaccine was widely available,” added Chong when contacted.
Although Harapan opposes the emergency proclamation due to the negative impact on the economy as well as foreign investment, Chong said it is improper to petition to lift it just for the sake of an election.
‘Best time is the beginning of next year’
Meanwhile, Sarawak PKR chief Larry Sng said the beginning of next year should be the best time to hold the state polls.
“Personally, I also welcome the move to have an early election provided the Covid-19 situation is under control. But unfortunately, it is unlikely unless the vaccine is available.
“From my understanding, it will take at least a year to inoculate the vaccine to over 70 percent of the population in the country.
“Given that timeline, if we want to ensure the environment is safe for voters, the best time to have the election is the beginning of next year,” he told Malaysiakini.
Sng reiterated that the idea of conducting a state election should wait until the Sarawak State Assembly reaches its full term, before assessing whether it is safe to do so.
Sarawak has seen a surge of more than one thousand Covid-19 cases in the past week. There are currently 1,647 active cases in the state, which reported 255 new cases yesterday.
Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Wong Soon Koh also warned that the people’s lives will be at risk if the state election is held during the pandemic.