Saturday, January 23

State Assembly dissolved


KUCHING: The Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) will be dissolved today, paving the way for the 11th State election that will see 82 seats up for grabs, an increase of 11.

A caretaker government is automatically formed following the dissolution of the state assembly. The caretaker government will consist of the members of cabinet, including the chief minister, ministers and assistant ministers.

Last Friday, while attending the Sejiwa Senada event organised by KTS Group in Sibu, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem said: “After the dissolution of the state assembly, I will still be the chief minister, but an acting one. I will continue to perform the duty as a chief minister.”

The cabinet will continue its duties until the new Chief Minister is sworn in and forms his cabinet. Once the new chief minister forms his new cabinet, the present cabinet will cease to exist. Power to govern the state will move from the present cabinet to the new one formed under the new state chief.

Though the cabinet may continue in discharging its duties, its power, however, is limited only to execution of daily duties involving economic, political and administrative areas. It loses its power in policy making and no new policy is to be made by the cabinet during this time of power transition.

The span of the caretaker government will depend on how soon the state election is held.

DUN Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nasar said under Article 21 (4) of the State Constitution, a general election must be held within 60 days after the DUN is dissolved, and the new State Legislative Assembly must convene on a date not later than 120 days from the date of dissolution.

“We are pleased that the governor has numerically chosen April 11, 2016, as the date of the DUN dissolution. Eleven signifies 11 new additional seats and that this would be the 11th state election. The number coincides with 11-11-11,” Asfia said recently.

After the dissolution, all elected representatives will no longer be addressed as state assemblymen. All the assemblymen will also no longer be addressed as incumbents. For those continued to be nominated by their political parties to stand, they will be addressed like the rest of the candidates – only as candidate for a particular constituency.

For example, Alexander Vincent will not be addressed as Ngemah assemblyman but only as PRS candidate for Ngemah.

There may be complicated situations, though. For example, in the case of Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, who was Bengoh assemblyman and Public Health Assistant Minister before the dissolution.

After the dissolution, he will only be addressed as Mambong candidate, as the name of his constituency Bengoh has been changed to Mambong. And since the cabinet continues to function like normal, he will continue to be in charge of public health affairs, where he will be addressed as such.

On the same token, people could not call them ‘Yang Berhormat’ (Honourable Member) anymore after dissolution of the DUN. This is the same with those who are assistant ministers. But full ministers can still be called ‘Yang Berhormat’ because they still have portfolios in the caretaker government.

The much awaited election will be historic as it features contestants in 82 seats, including 11 new ones.

The newly delineated constituencies are Batu Kitang, Stakan, Serembu, Bukit Semuja, Gedong, Kabong, Tellian, Bukit Goram, Murum, Samalaju and Mulu.

Parties involved are most likely Barisan Nasional (BN), Democratic Action Party (DAP), Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), Sarawak Workers Party (SWP) and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah). The BN is expected to field the most number of direct BN candidates compared to past elections.

The Election Commission (EC) is expected to announce the nomination and polling dates after a meeting sometime this week.

Many political observers believe the nomination date will be within the next 14 days, while the polling day will be in the first week of May. This 11th state election will see 1.14 million registered voters casting their votes in 82 constituencies, according to report quoting the EC.

EC chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah said on March 2 that the figures included 14,000 armed forces personnel and 9,500 police personnel who would be voting early as they would be on duty during polling day.

The 21,000 election workers who will also be on duty during polling day will be using postal voting. The coming polls will also see some 160,000 voters voting in the new constituencies.

A sum of RM135 million has been allocated to conduct the election. About 80 helicopters would be used for 21 rural state constituencies that are inaccessible by cars and boats, while 1,871 polling stations and 2,945 voting channels will be established during polling day.