Ban on political gatherings during campaigning for Melaka polls applies to all: De facto law minister
KUALA LUMPUR: The ban on political gatherings during the campaigning for the Melaka state election next month will be imposed equally on all parties, said de facto law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar to parliament on Tuesday (Oct 26).
The Cabinet will discuss ways to prevent the ministers from using official events as a ruse to campaign, said Mr Wan Junaidi as reported by Malaysian media.
"I will bring it up during the next Cabinet meeting so that ministers do not circumvent the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the National Security Council (NSC) and Health Ministry, which will be implemented by the Election Commission (EC)," Mr Wan Junaidi was quoted as saying by the Star.
The minister was responding to a question from opposition MP Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, who sought assurance from the government that official ministerial events would not be used by the respective ministers to campaign during the Melaka state election.
Mr Wan Junaidi said that the law will be enforced equally on all parties, according to Malay Mail.
“Actually we do not practise double standards ... and I am speaking on behalf of the Election Commission, NSC and the Health Ministry,” Mr Junaidi was quoted as saying.
In his question, Mr Saifudin, as reported by Malay Mail, had suggested the possibility that politicians with the ruling government may attempt to circumvent the ban and meet with constituents to garner support through “official” functions.
This, he said, would put the opposition at a disadvantage when they are prohibited from organising any forms of gatherings related to political campaigning.
“What we do not wish for is a double standard. When the government organises, they use the National Security Council’s SOPs. When we organise, they use the Election Commission’s SOPs” said Mr Saifudin as reported by Malay Mail.
“This will create tension and uncontrolled anger. I want to pre-empt the minister. So I want a thorough explanation from YB. If allowed, say it's allowed and if it's disallowed, say it's disallowed,” he added.
Melaka is currently under Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) where official government events are allowed for individuals who have obtained full vaccination.
The Melaka state government collapsed on Oct 4 after four state lawmakers withdrew their support for chief minister Sulaiman Md Ali.
The EC has fixed Nov 8 for nomination and Nov 20 for voting.
Earlier in his reply to a question raised by Tebrau MP Steven Choong, Mr Wan Junaidi said that the EC is currently drafting improved SOPs for the state polls.
He said it is important to strike a balance between the EC's aspirations of seeing a vibrant democracy in practice through the polls and health and safety concerns raised by the Health Ministry, according to the Star.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaludin had said on Sunday that political gatherings would not be allowed from Oct 25 to Nov 27 during the Melaka state polls.
Mr Khairy said that the prohibition of all activities, gatherings or social meetings related to political campaigning for the Melaka polls is to prevent the COVID-19 infection rate from surging again.
There have been concerns that large political gatherings and events could result in a spike in COVID-19 cases, as what had happened during the Sabah state polls last year.
Malaysia has been reporting a downward trend of daily COVID-19 cases, with 5,726 new cases recorded for Tuesday.
Total cases have exceeded 2.4 million.
Mr Khairy said last week that there has been an increase in admissions for COVID-19 hospitals and quarantine centres in some states and federal territories after interstate travel was allowed to resume.