Govt mulling emergency for Bugaya, Gerik

pic by BERNAMA

THE government is considering imposing a state of emergency in Bugaya, Sabah, and Gerik, Perak, to curb the spread of Covid-19, as by-elections are expected in both constituencies.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (picture) said the emergency declaration will be based on recommendations from the Health Ministry (MoH) and Malaysian National Security Council (MKN) if similar issues in Batu Sapi arise.

“The government is in full force to curb Covid-19, enforcing the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 324).

“Malaysia is in its third wave of the pandemic due to the by-election in Sabah recently, thus the government took the initiative to enforce Article 150(1) of the Emergency Ordinance and Proclamation of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2020 to defer the by-election in Batu Sapi.

“Emergency declaration will be considered for the Bugaya and Gerik constituencies if both areas pose similar risks as Batu Sapi had following assessments by MoH and MKN,” he told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He was responding to a query by Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan (Barisan Nasional-Pontian) on whether the prime minister plans to advise the King to declare an emergency for both constituencies and the rationale if it is being implemented.

Last week, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah agreed to declare a state of emergency in the Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency in Sabah, postponing its by-election which was supposed to be on Dec 5.

The Proclamation of Emergency was based on Clause (1) Article 150 of the Federal Constitution and Proclamation of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2020.

Takiyuddin said among the issues that led to the deferment of the Batu Sapi by-election were insufficient manpower to manage the expected 32,000 voters and the possibility of violation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“For Batu Sapi, there was a high chance that the SOPs would be flouted. There was also the problem of insufficient Election Commission (EC) officers and medical officers willing to be on duty for the by-election.

“We feel the King’s decision to declare emergency was the right move and aligned with the Constitution, and does not contradict with democratic practice,” he said.

He added that out of the 837 election officers, only 143 were willing to work during the Batu Sapi by-election.

Separately, EC will hold a special meeting chaired by Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh this Friday to discuss important dates for the Gerik and Bugaya by-elections.

In a statement yesterday, EC secretary Datuk Ikmalrudin Ishak said the committee received official notices regarding the vacancies for both seats from the Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun and Sabah assembly Speaker Datuk Kadzim M Yahya.

Based on EC data, Batu Sapi has 32,962 voters where 3,170 are registered with addresses outside of the constituency, including in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.

The Batu Sapi by-election was called after its MP Datuk Liew Vui Keong died of lung infection on Oct 2.

For the other two constituencies, Datuk Hasbullah Osman of Gerik died on Nov 16, while Manis Muka Mohd Darah of Bugaya died the day after.

Read our earlier report

Govt mulling emergency in Bugaya, Gerik constituencies