PETALING JAYA: Politicians from both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan have slammed the health ministry’s ban on public gatherings and face-to-face campaigning for the Melaka election.
They say the ban is unfair as it will prevent them from reaching out to voters on a personal level to explain their manifestos.
Earlier today, health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said any form of ceramah, public gathering or social events for the Melaka election was prohibited. The ban will be enforced from tomorrow until Nov 27.
Polling has been fixed for Nov 20.
DAP’s election director and Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong told FMT that the ban will put PH at a disadvantage.
“But we had expected the health ministry to come up with this decision.
“Of course, it will be difficult for us because PH will not enjoy as much airtime as BN and PN (Perikatan Nasional).”
PH will instead focus its campaign online, he said.
“But we still have to bear in mind that using online platforms to reach out to rural folks will be a challenge for us,” he said, adding that he would be raising the matter in the Dewan Rakyat tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Melaka Umno deputy chief Mohamad Ali Mohamad claimed that Khairy’s prohibition on face-to-face election campaigns restricted the practice of democracy.
“We can still enjoy our democratic freedom by adapting our Covid-19 SOPs.
“If the government can permit schools and shopping malls to open, and can even allow people to go for recreational activities, why are political parties being banned from campaigning?”
Mohamad said the Melaka election could set a good example on how the next general election could be conducted.
“We are moving into the endemic phase of Covid-19, and need to learn how to hold an election.
“We cannot allow ourselves to be in a position where we can’t do anything, including taking part in campaigning for an election,” he said.
The state chapter, he said, would raise the matter with Umno’s leaders.
Meanwhile, Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann said the Election Commission needed to provide “alternative means of campaigning” to political parties.
He suggested that government-owned media organisations, namely Bernama and RTM, provide airtime for ruling and opposition candidates to present voters with their parties’ policies and plans.
Debates between potential candidates for the chief minister’s post should also be held, he said.
“In short, don’t just restrict, but give alternatives,” Fann said.
By : Ho Kit Yen – FMT