Sarawak polls can wait until Covid-19 situation improves, says Abang Johari

KUCHING: The coming Sarawak state election can wait until the Covid-19 situation has improved, says Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The Chief Minister said the state government was focusing fully on efforts to contain the spread of the virus and carry out the immunisation programme for 2.08 million eligible recipients in the state.

“Covid-19 has already claimed many lives in Sarawak. Each life is precious.

“Our priority now is on the fight against Covid-19. Other matters, including the state election, can be put on hold until the situation permits,” he said in his Hari Raya message.

The next state election is due by Aug 5,60 days after the state legislative assembly’s current term ends on June 6.

However, no election can be held during the current Emergency period which is in place until Aug 1.

Abang Johari said the state government was trying to obtain sufficient vaccines, including direct procurement from suppliers, in order to complete the immunisation programme by August.

“We need to get approval from the Federal Government and relevant agencies before making any orders.

“We also need federal approval to gazette private hospitals as vaccination centres to speed up the immunisation, especially in urban areas,” the Chief Minister said, urging eligible Sarawakians to register for the vaccination.

On Sarawak’s decision not to implement the movement control order, Abang Johari said this was based on past experience and consideration of its economic impact.

He said the state disaster management committee would instead continue to impose the enhanced MCO in localities where there are infections, based on data and the situation on the ground.

“This is in line with our policy to trace, test, quarantine and isolate. We have found that this is more practical than locking down an entire district or the state under the MCO,” he said.

He added that a blanket MCO would harm the state’s economy, which was already affected by the MCO and conditional MCO last year.

“We need to keep the economy going so that the rakyat don’t lose their jobs and development programmes can continue to be implemented,” he said.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had announced a nationwide MCO 3.0 on Monday (May 10), with the stipulation that Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan could continue to implement their existing standard operating procedures (SOP).

On Tuesday (May 11), the state disaster management committee decided that Sarawak would maintain its current conditional MCO with stricter SOP until May 17.