KUCHING: Sarawak’s state election has to be held now since its state assembly has been dissolved following the revocation of the emergency proclamation on Nov 3, said chief minister Abang Johari Tun Openg on Friday (Nov 5).
The state government felt that it would be betraying its oath if it hangs on to power under the guise of a state of emergency, after its mandate had expired on Jun 7, he added.
The state assembly was dissolved on Wednesday by Sarawak’s governor Abdul Taib Mahmud, after the king, Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah consented to the revocation of the state of emergency for the East Malaysia state.
The emergency proclamation for Sarawak was promulgated on Aug 2 this year, after the expiry of the nation-wide emergency on Aug 1. It was initially supposed to last until Feb 2, 2022.
In a statement on Wednesday, the national palace said that the king’s consent was in accordance with Article 40 and 40(1A) of the Federal Constitution.
Mr Abang Johari was quoted as saying by the Star on Friday: "It's a unique situation where the Agong has lifted the Emergency, automatically (the state assembly) is dissolved.
"But as a matter of procedure, we will ask the speaker to inform the Election Commission (EC) officially."
According to Mr Abang Johari, his ruling coalition, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) consulted and advised the governor to seek the king's consent for the state of emergency to be terminated earlier in the spirit of their oath to preserve and protect the state and federal constitutions.
He said had the emergency not been proclaimed, the state legislature would have been dissolved by Jun 7 and the state government would no longer have the people's mandate given in 2016.
If the state government had continued to govern without renewing its mandate, this would have been a betrayal to the oath it took to safeguard the right of the people to choose their own government, he said.
“The GPS government feels that it would be a betrayal to that oath if the GPS government were to hang on to power under the veil of a state of emergency, whereas the people's mandate to govern had expired," he said as reported by the Star.
Mr Abang Johari also said that the people's health and safety were paramount.
“Therefore, in coming to this decision we have had a careful and constant engagement with the health authorities and other stakeholders in order for the election to be held with all the necessary Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place,” he was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.
He added that it was now up to the EC to decide on the election dates.
Bernama reported that the EC had received an official notification on the dissolution of the Sarawak state assembly, quoting a statement by EC secretary Ikmalrudin Ishak
He said the EC will hold a special meeting to discuss the conduct of the election, with the date of the meeting to be announced later.