Abang Johari in no rush for Sarawak polls as people’s health comes first

Posted on : 03 Nov 2020  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Datukl Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at the press conference in Kota Samarahan today. – Photo by Roy Emmor

KOTA SAMARAHAN (Nov 3): Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has emphasised today that the health of Sarawakians is a priority of the state government, amid concern that the state election could be held during the current surge in Covid-19 cases.

While the chief minister agreed that the polls were inevitable, he indicated that he was in no hurry to seek the dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly whose term expires in the middle of next year.

Abang Johari reiterated that he was guided by the Health Ministry and experts as well as by the preparedness of the Election Commission to deal with the pandemic in deciding when to call the polls.

“Why should you rush? The people are more important. I have mentioned it before, we have always put the safety and health of the people and will only want to see the election be held if the situation allows us to,” he told a press conference at the Kota Samarahan Civic Centre.

He thus assured Sarawakians that the state government would not put their lives in danger, despite the nation’s constitution requiring the state election.

“Number one is the people’s health, number two is constitutional decision,” said Abang Johari.

Abang Johari was asked to comment on Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement recently that the upcoming Sarawak state election and the Batu Sapi by-election would still have to take place  unless an emergency was declared.

Citing the Federal Constitution, the prime minister said the elections would still have to go on, but he noted the concerns of the EC staff who fear of contracting Covid-19 while serving during polling.

“If you ask me there should be no elections now as the Covid-19 cases are spiking, however, we can’t call it off unless we declare a state of emergency,” Muhyiddin said.

The Federal Constitution states that an election must be held within 60 days of the dissolution of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly.

However, the Sarawak assembly  would only automatically expire in June next year, which would allow a state election to be held as far away as August next year.

Since the first sitting of the state legislative assembly (DUN) after the May 2016 election was on June 7, 2016, the automatic dissolution will only happen on June 7, 2021.

From that date, the EC has to hold an election within 60 days of the automatic dissolution.