MELAKA – The grassroots of political parties involved in the campaign in the Melaka state election all have differing opinions on the standard operating procedures (SOP) set by the Election Commission (EC), but all of them concurred that the rules are not easy to observe.
Among complaints raised was on visiting activities, which they claimed are normally allowed, but under the new norms to curb the spread of COVID-19, they are no longer allowed during campaign.
An UMNO member Muhammad Adib Juhari, 24, said the SOP set for the Melaka state election made it difficult for the party machinery to campaign, but the rules had to be adhered to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
“What I see now, is that it is difficult for us to campaign, but due to the COVID-19, it has to be done under the new norms. The best way we can do is to use technology, which actually helps in our campaign work,” he told Bernama here.
He suggested that the SOP and the campaign period be reviewed, including for the SOP on the campaign to be issued earlier to facilitate preparations by candidates and the party machinery.
“In my opinion, the campaign period should be longer so that the candidates can cover all the areas in the constituency they are contesting. If we hold online talks every day, the audience will be bored,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jasin Bersatu division committee member, Mohd Arzaain Mat Darus, 35, said that five days of campaign would suffice if strict SOPs were imposed.
“Just five days (campaign period) is enough, instead of 12 days because with this strict SOPs, it’s difficult and we don’t know what to do.
“Having a longer campaign period will only provide more opportunities for slander on social media which will make it more difficult for candidates,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tangga Batu UMNO Youth Committee member Mohd Haidhir Haris, 42, said it would be easier to approach the young people online, but would not be the same for senior citizens.
“For the young people, it is easy (to use the latest technology), but for those in their 50s and above, it is quite difficult to explain to them online,” he said.
Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) member Siti Zarbedah Idros, 54, said not everyone had the time to read postings on Facebook or the WhatsApp application, but considered it a challenge for the party, which was registered in 2019.
“From tonight, we will upload digital content on social media sites in an effort to reach out to voters. We also plan to campaign on vehicles using loud hailers as proposed by the EC, but the rainy weather conditions have hampered our movement,” she said.
Siti Zarbedah said there was a positive side to the strict restrictions imposed during the campaign period.
“We can save cost as there will be no large-scale programmes with the people can be organised,” she added.
EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh, had said last Monday, that ceramah (talks), public speeches and physical campaigns are not allowed during the Melaka state election.
He called on all parties involved in the election to comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP) to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Melaka election.
Among the banned activities during Melaka election are house-to-house visits, walkabouts and the distribution of pamphlets to members of the public face-to-face.
To campaign, candidates are encouraged to use social applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Wechat, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Telegram and other applications as the channel to deliver campaign messages.
The campaign could also use television networks, local newspapers and candidates should utilise technology for the campaign in line with the new normal practised following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EC has set Nov 20 as polling day for the Melaka state election, with Nov 16 for early voting.
The election was called following the dissolution of the state assembly on Oct 4 after four state assembly members withdrew support for the leadership of Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali.