Malaysia’s Election Commission denies reports that voters in Melaka polls must be fully vaccinated
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s Election Commission (EC) has denied that being fully vaccinated is a requirement for voters in the upcoming Melaka state polls.
The EC said in a statement on Monday (Oct 18) that the guidelines for the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOP) for the election have not been finalised, according to a report by national news agency Bernama.
The commission added that the health protocols would be guided by the views and advice of the National Security Council, the Health Ministry and the police from time to time.
In a press conference earlier on Monday, the EC had announced Nov 20 as the polling date for the Melaka state election, while the nomination date was set for Nov 8 and early voting on Nov 16.
Bernama quoted EC chairman Abdul Ghani Salleh as saying that voters were encouraged to cast their ballots according to recommended time slots to prevent crowding at polling stations.
"We have strict SOP at polling centres. The conditions include completing two doses of vaccination, wearing of face masks and physical distancing. Therefore, we urge all voters to get themselves vaccinated … there is still time,” he was initially quoted as saying.
Mr Abdul Ghani’s remarks, attributed to Bernama, were also reported by other local media outlets on Monday.
Bernama later corrected the quote to: "We have strict SOP at polling centres; Conditions on vaccination, wearing of face masks, practising physical distancing and the like.”
The Melaka state assembly was dissolved on Oct 4 after four state lawmakers, including two from United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), withdrew their support for Chief Minister Sulaiman Md Ali.
One of them was Sungai Udang assemblyman and former Melaka chief minister Idris Haron. He and Pantai Kundor assemblyman Nor Azman Hassan were later stripped of their UMNO membership.
Before the dissolution, the Barisan Nasional/Perikatan Nasional government had 17 seats in the 28-member state assembly.
With the exodus of the four assemblymen, Mr Sulaiman was only backed by 12 UMNO assemblymen and one state lawmaker from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
The opposition bloc, which included 11 members from Pakatan Harapan, had cried foul over the dissolution, insisting instead that the Melaka governor should have met with them before making a decision.