Sin Chew Daily
From defection by a couple of kataks to fresh election, and from election to an explosive spread of the coronavirus pandemic, then politicians start to point fingers, and then another nationwide lockdown is imposed…
We do not seem to have picked up a lesson from the Sabah state election last year.
Because of the defection of four PN assemblymen, the Melaka state legislative assembly was forced to be dissolved. The election commission subsequently announced that the nomination day would fall on Nov 8 and polling on Nov 20.
If it were in the past, the two-week campaigning would be kicked off immediately after nomination.
But as the pandemic is still very much ravaging the country, the health ministry has announced that all election-related campaign activities, gatherings, social dinners and launch of election action rooms would be banned from Oct 25 to Nov 27 in a bid to prevent virus transmission and the risk of sharp increase in COVID-19 infections.
After the announcement was made by minister Khairy Jamaluddin, politicians on both sides of the divide began to protest. DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the government should not be afraid of the voters and that banning election campaigning is against the principles of democracy for fair, independent and free election.
Sounding absolutely reasonable as it is, the same has been echoed by some other politicians. Perhaps they all belong to the same breed of creatures!
Being on the forefront in the country’s battle against the virus, minister Khairy’s duty is to protect Malaysians from the threat of the virus, and by right he should be supported by every politician irrespective of affiliation.
Forget about the other people, Khairy’s duty is to serve the rakyat, not the katak politicians. So long as he has the support of the people, he should just do what is best for the nation without taking heed of what the others might say.
We are currently in the fourth phase of the national recovery plan, and the latest SOP couldn’t have been more explicit: No gatherings of large crowds of people where social distancing is impossible.
Now the question: how to prevent large crowds of people at a campaign event or ceramah? No way!
On Oct 24, before the election campaign period was even started, we saw crowds of people at various election-related events in Melaka in which supporters pulled down their masks and frantically shouted slogans. There were men and women in the midst, including also former PM Najib Razak. How to control the situation if a law is not enacted?
Almost two years since the world first waged the war against the virus, the pandemic remains challenging today. Our only bet is the high vaccination rate.
Over the past two years, other than urging the public to strictly comply with the SOPs, the government has also tirelessly educated the people on what to do and what to avoid. Even a three-year-old can tell you: go for vaccination, follow the SOPs, protect yourself and protect your family.
There should be no excuse for our politicians to be ignorant of such basic things.
While the candidates and campaigners speaking on the stage are fairly well protected with strict protocols, what about the spectators yelling to their hearts’ content down there?
Last year, Sabah held the state election on September 26, also because of a couple of kataks earlier in July. As a consequence, it triggered a massive explosion in COVID-19 cases throughout the country.
A week after the election on Oct 2 last year, the country recorded a cumulative total of 11,771 confirmed cases and 136 deaths. A year later, the numbers have multiplied by 208 times to 2.44 million cases and 28,400 deaths today. Countless of families are torn and many children are orphaned. I’m sure our politicians know about this.
Perhaps we have to do things different ways during such unusual times. Election campaigning can be done in many different ways other than a congregation of people.
Last July, public campaigning was also banned during Singapore’s general election. Candidates could reach out to the voters through TV broadcasts while the number of polling stations increased from 880 to 1,100. Polling was done on telephone appointment basis and the voters had to go to the polling stations within two hours from the designated time slot to cast their ballots.
We need elected reps who can come up with constructive new ideas, not people spitting foul language or hurling curses at their opponents.
Khairy’s decision to ban campaign activities and gatherings during the state election is wholly justified. He should insist on what he thinks is right instead of dancing to the tune of rogue politicians.