Malaysia Extends Emergency Rule in Sarawak to Avoid Election

Malaysia has extended an emergency ordinance in the Borneo state of Sarawak in a bid to hold off a state election amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a proclamation signed by King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad on July 30.

The emergency, which was scheduled to end on Sunday, will be extended until Feb. 2, 2022, according to the proclamation.

This was revealed in a federal gazette which was released last night, in which the government said they are extending the emergency on grounds “to prevent any further increase in the spread of Covid-19 if the state election is held”.

The five-year term of the Sarawak legislative assembly was scheduled to end on June 6 but the state could not hold an election because of the emergency declared in January to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The current emergency, covering peninsula and East Malaysia, will end tomorrow.

“A state election is required to be held within 60 days from Aug 2 in accordance with Clause (4) of Article 21 of Sarawak state constitution,” the gazette said.

The state election was supposed to be held by June 6 but suspended due to the emergency. Chief minister Abang Johari Openg previously said the state election can wait until the Covid-19 situation improved.

The Sarawak state assembly is expected to remain suspended until Feb 2, 2022. (Bernama pic)

The pandemic in Malaysia has worsened recently mainly due to the emergence of the delta variant of the virus, with the Southeast Asian nation reporting a record 17,405 new daily cases of Covid-19 on July 28, pushing the total number of infections past the 1 million mark for the first time. It added 16,840 new infections on Friday, 450 of them in Sarawak.

Law minister Takiyuddin Hassan announced in the Dewan Rakyat on July 26 that the Perikatan Nasional-led (PN) government would not seek an extension on the current emergency proclamation beyond Aug 1.

Three by-elections – two parliamentary seats and one state seat – have also been postponed since late last year, after the government declared an emergency in the respective areas.

On Nov 18, Batu Sapi in Sabah was placed under a state emergency to avoid a by-election from taking place following the death of its MP Liew Vui Keong from Warisan, who was the law minister under the former Pakatan Harapan administration.

On Dec 16, a proclamation of Emergency was announced for the Gerik parliamentary constituency in Perak and the Bugaya state constituency in Sabah, following the deaths of the elected representatives.


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