PETALING JAYA, Oct 6 (Sin Chew Daily) – If the Melaka state election is to be held in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the rakyat will be the victims of an experiment.
Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association (PPPKAM) president Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar told Sin Chew Daily the Melaka state election will be a testing ground to verify whether there will be a spike in new COVID-19 cases because of the election, whether SOPs will be adhered to, and how effective the vaccines are against the virus.
People will take the brunt
He said sure enough there would be positive and negative outcomes, but this time, it is not the guinea pigs that would be the subjects of the experiment, but the rakyat.
“If they are willing to accept any outcome of the experiment, then go for it, but the rakyat will become the victims of this experiment.”
He also said the best solution now is to postpone the election until the pandemic is under control.
However, if the election must be held, Zainal Ariffin proposed that all campaign activities be run online in the absence of physical contacts, with the exception of nomination and polling days.
“If possible, all face-to-face campaign activities must be banned. No door-to-door visitations or ceramahs. No interstate travels, shorter campaign period and make sure all people involved have been fully vaccinated.
“We need to pick up a lesson from the Sabah election.”
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s constitutional expert Muhammad Fathi Yusof said according to Article 19(4) of the Melaka state constitution, state election must be held within 60 days after the state legislative assembly has been dissolved.
He said the situation in Melaka is different from Sarawak’s because the federal government has proclaimed a state of emergency in Sarawak before the state assembly is officially dissolved.
He said although the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can proclaim a state of emergency in Melaka under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, His Majesty will need to have a comprehensive evaluation of all the factors and have to be sure the state election will pose a drastic risk in the situation of the pandemic before doing so.
He also said incumbent Melaka chief minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali only advised the Yang di-Pertua Negeri to dissolve the state assembly, but the prerogative is still in the hands of the latter.
He said under normal circumstances, the YDN must act on the advice of the chief minister. However, if the chief minister has lost the majority support, then the YDN can decide whether to consent or reject.
He cited the example of the constitutional crisis in Perak in May 2009, when the Sultan rejected menteri besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin’s request to dissolve the state assembly and appointed Zambry Abdul Kadir instead as new menteri besar having ascertained the position of all the state assemblymen.
Barometer ahead of GE
Meanwhile, local political commentator Tang Ah Chai said the upcoming state election in Melaka will be very intensely fought, and will serve as a barometer to gauge the support of individual parties ahead of the 15th general elections.
“This will be an election to determine the fate of Bersatu, especially whether Umno assemblymen who have jumped ship to Bersatu will win the election under Bersatu now.
“As for the two Umno reps who have betrayed the party this time and could be sacked by the party, their chances of re-election will be slim if they run as independent candidates.”