Thursday, August 11

‘No curfew, military-style administration in Batu Sapi’


KUALA LUMPUR:  The life of the people will not be affected by the declaration of Emergency in the parliamentary constituency of Batu Sapi as there will be no curfew or military-style administration, said Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday.

The Prime Minister said the administration of the government as well as economic and social activities would continue subject to the practise of the new normal and regulations under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in force in Sabah now.

“The Perikatan Nasional government wishes to assure that the Batu Sapi by-election would be held as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic is over,” he said in a special address on the proclamation of emergency aired by local television and social media networks.

Muhyiddin delivers his special message on the proclamation of emergency in Batu Sapi which was broadcast live from Parliament. — Bernama photo

“The life of the people in Batu Sapi will not be affected following the declaration of emergency. There will be no curfew or military-style administration,” said Muhyiddin.

The government has taken five key factors into consideration in avoiding the Batu Sapi by-election.  Firstly, the factor of threat to public health, secondly the constraint of the Election Commission (EC) in getting election personnel, thirdly cross district movements among election personnel and voters would be inevitable.

Fourthly, the worry of infection risk among voters especially senior citizens and fifthly, the effects on the social and economic life of the people in Batu Sapi should Covid-19 cases spike after the by-election.

The by-election was held following the death of its incumbent Datuk Liew Vui Keong on Oct 2.

EC had set nomination day on Nov 23, early voting on Dec 1 and polling day on Dec 5.

Muhyiddin said the Sabah State Election showed that the election held in a Covid-19 outbreak was the cause of the third wave of infection while the EC found it hard to secure election workers due to the fear getting infected with the disease.

“So far, on Nov 6, EC has only appointed 143 election personnel which is 17.1 per cent compared to 837 people needed to conduct the Batu Sapi by-election,” he said.

Should the by-election be held, cross-district movements among election workers and voters would be unavoidable and it would raise the risk of the pandemic to other districts in Sabah.

There are 32,962 registered voters in the Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency with 7,377 of them comprising voters aged 60 and above or 22.3 per cent of the electorate.

“As a caring and responsible government, the priority is to protect the life of each citizen and as such the situation should be avoided,” he said.

“We do not want a spike of Covid-19 cases especially in Batu Sapi and Sabah in general should the pandemic spread after the Batu Sapi by-election is held.

“This will certainly affect the efforts being carried out by our frontliners, when a large portion of them are tired after combating the outbreak for so long,” said Muhyiddin.

Data showed that on Sept 12 (Nomination Day) in the Sabah State Election, there were 808 cumulative cases in Sabah and the number rose to 1,547 cases on polling day on Sept 26 and it continued to drastically increase in the four weeks after polling day to 11,285 cumulative cases on Oct 24.

The Prime Minister said based on the factors, the cabinet took the view that the Batu Sapi by-election should be cancelled and postponed to another more suitable date when the Covid-19 pandemic has ended.

He said the Attorney General had given his view that there is no other way to cancel the Batu Sapi by-election except with the declaration of an emergency under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution.  Muhyiddin said he was granted an audience by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong yesterday to present the advice of the cabinet that the Agong declares an emergency in Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution.

“Acting on the advice of the Cabinet, the King consented to declare an emergency in Batu Sapi and proclaimed the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2020 to enable the Batu Sapi by-election scheduled on Dec 5 to be cancelled and postponed to another date to be determined later,” he said. — Bernama