KOTA KINABALU, Nov — The declaration of a state of emergency in the Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency will be a precedent and model that can be applied to prevent any election if required in the event of a crisis in the future.
According to Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Geo-Politics and Electoral Studies (GeOpeS) researcher Dr Syahruddin Awang Ahmad, only the proclamation of emergency through Article 150 of the Federal Constitution is technically and in principle capable of legally preventing an election from taking place.
He said the move also ‘solved’ another legal provision stipulating that elections should be held within 60 days of a state or Parliamentary seat being vacated.
In this regard, Syahruddin said the approach of declaring a localised emergency would also be suitable in the case of the Gerik Parliamentary by-election in Perak; Sarawak state-election; or any election to be held during this period.
“What is important is that all political leaders, and parties from both from the government and the opposition must accept this decision openly, because it is the best way to avoid an election at all levels especially at a time when the COVID-19 threat is at a critical level,” he told Bernama.
Yesterday, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah issued a proclamation of emergency in the Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency to postpone the by-election for the seat.
The emergency proclamation based on Article 150(1) of the Federal Constitution was made after Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin presented his advice to the King following the Cabinet’s decision on the matter.
The Election Commission (EC) had previously set the nomination day for the Batu Sapi by-election con Nov 23, followed by early voting on Dec 1 and Dec 5 as polling day.
The by-election was necessitated following the death of its incumbent Datuk Liew Vui Keong on Oct 2 due to a lung infection.
Syahruddin, who is also a senior lecturer and UMS said the postponement would allow the people and government agencies, especially the Ministry of Health and the state government to prioritise the health and welfare of the people during this critical period.
“This move also clearly signifies that the government is smart and serious in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Sabah, the state with the highest cumulative number of cases so far, apart from recording the highest number of active clusters among all states.