SEREMBAN, March 13 — Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin opines that the public health situation in the country which has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic needs to be stabilised before the 15th General Election (GE15) can be held.
“Even when the country has entered the transition to endemic phase, it does not mean that the pandemic has ended and all still have to be careful as the General Election will involve a lot of people.
“When the country’s borders are opened, spacing between the congregants (at the mosques and surau) are narrowed and the capacity limit terminated, it does not mean that we can do anything we like. The Johor state election has just ended, so I feel it is better for the public health situation to be really stable first.
“I also see that the federal government has an agreement (Memorandum of Understanding on Transformation and Political Stability) until July, so there is no urgent need for it (GE15) as the government is stable, it will not collapse and laws can be passed in Parliament, so let’s not do anything unnecessary just because we see a political opportunity.”
He said this to reporters after attending a community service programme organised by the Malaysian Association of Medical Assistants, here, today.
Khairy also said that discussions must be held with the Election Commission (EC) to find the best mechanism for the suggestion of allowing COVID-19 patients to vote in the elections.
“Malaysians indeed have the right the vote but as the country is still hit by the pandemic, we need to think of a safe mechanism to enable COVID-19 patients to vote without adversely affecting the people’s health.
“Yes, it is their (COVID-19 patients’) right to vote and it’s also the right of Malaysians not to get the COVID-19 infection. Hence, in balancing these rights, we need to have the best mechanism,” he added.
On the proposal by some people that the Low-Risk COVID-19 Assessment and Treatment Centres (PKRC) be made voting centres, Khairy almost 96 per cent of COVID-19 patients quarantined themselves at home.
He said that if the PKRC were used as voting centres, the question that could arise would be on the health safety of the family members exposed to COVID-19 infection when sending the patients to the PKRC.
“There are many ways to do it but I am raising the challenges first….it can be done but we need to discuss this with the EC,” he added.
Meanwhile, Khairy said 54 compound notices were issued during the Johor state election but he viewed the compIiance with the standard operating procedure set to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during that period to be generally good.