KUCHING, Jan 22 — Sarawak State cabinet members plan to appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to lift the emergency order in Sarawak if the COVID-19 situation in the state can be brought to a manageable level.
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said this in a WhatsApp message to Bernama after several cabinet members had an ‘informal discussion’ about the matter.
He said if the appeal is favourably considered, it would pave the way for the 12th State Election to be held as the term for the current State Legislative Assembly ends in June.
“It was discussed informally among my colleagues, as a way to have PRN12 Sarawak (12th State election), b4 (before) DUN (Sarawak legislative assembly term) expires in June 2021 after the MMKN (Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri or the State Cabinet) (meeting) on 21.01.21 (Wednesday),” he said in the text message.
The meeting was chaired by the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here and Masing confirmed that Abang Johari was among those involved in the informal discussion.
“Yes. CM (Chief Minister Abang Johari) was there (in the informal discussion),” said Masing.
The deputy chief minister said the call for a state election would depend on the state’s ability to bring down the number of COVID-19 cases.
He said Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had declared an emergency as the country was still battling COVID-19, and it (emergency) would restrict people from moving around.
“But if Sarawak can flatten the (infection) curve or contain COVID-19, we may ask the King to lift the emergency in Sarawak and then we (can) have the election,” he said.
On Jan 12, Al-Sultan Abdullah proclaimed a State of Emergency, to be enforced up to Aug 1, as a proactive measure to contain the worsening COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on the same day explained that the Cabinet had advised the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to proclaim a State of Emergency under Clause (1) of Article 150.
Clause (1) of Article 150 states that if the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security, or the economic life, or public order in the Federation or any part thereof is threatened, he may issue a Proclamation of Emergency, making therein a declaration to that effect.
The Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 among others stipulated that general elections, state elections and by-elections, as well as Parliament and State Legislative Assembly sittings will not be held as long as the emergency is in force.