All eyes on possible Melaka by-election

by ASILA JALIL/ graphic by MZUKRI MOHAMAD

HOLDING a by-election while the country is still in the middle of managing the virus may make the public uneasy and cautious of a possible surge in infections.

Although it has yet to be confirmed, talks are rife that the nomination for Melaka by-election will be held by end of this month.

In a statement recently, Election Commission (EC) secretary Datuk Ikmalrudin Ishak said the EC will hold a special meeting in Melaka at 10am today to discuss matters relating to the state election, including the main dates.

“This includes the date for the issuance of the writ of election, nomination day, polling day and the electoral roll to be used,” he said.

University Malaya political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said economic recovery in the country is still slow as many remain affected by the various movement restrictions enforced throughout the pandemic.

“When the Melaka by-election is held too soon, it will raise concerns among the people who are still struggling with the new normal as well as the economic situation that has not fully recovered due to Covid-19,” he told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday.

This aspect, however, could be used by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) as a weapon against Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Barisan Nasional (BN) during its election campaign if the state election proceeds, he said.

Awang Azman said the government may attract voters during the campaign period by focusing on the vaccination rate, the decline in the number of daily infections and the stimulus packages offered throughout the pandemic.

The Opposition is expected to counterattack the sentiment that the government is looking to rely on by drawing attention to the infighting within PN that led to the fall of Melaka’s state government.

He said this highlights the attributes that lie among PN/BN leaders that the Opposition can bank on to gain support.

He opined competition between BN and PH will be the focal point in the state election as other parties are not as big as these two coalitions.

“Both PH and BN have their own advantage in the election but it all boils down to the sentiments that they will hang on to during the final week before voting day,” he said.

Awang Azman added among the standard operating procedures that the EC should underscore during the election include lessening physical campaigns to ensure the election can be done in an optimal environment.

Melaka’s political crisis surfaced after rumours were stating the Umno-led state under PN will witness another change of government after it took over from PH last year.

Four assemblymen then withdrew support for the state government last month, which led to a dissolution of the Melaka state government.

The assemblymen were former Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron (BN-Sungai Udang), Datuk Nor Azman Hassan (BN-Pantai Kundor), Datuk Norhizam Hassan Baktee (Independent-Pengkalan Batu) and Datuk Noor Effandi Ahmad (Bersatu-Telok Mas) who declared they have lost confidence in Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali’s leadership.

Umno had sacked both Idris and Nor Azman last week, while Bersatu also announced the termination of Noor Effandi’s membership due to their actions.

However, pundits believed that no party will have an upper advantage over another, as Umno already stated that there will be no Muafakat Nasional’s cooperation in this by-election.

A state election should be held within 60 days as stipulated in the Election Act 1958, but the decision still lies in the hands of the EC.