SANDAKAN: The cancellation of the Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election following the proclamation of emergency by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah is the best move to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
Voters in the constituency are of the view that the Sabah state election on Sept 26 clearly proved COVID-19 was difficult to control during an election, in fact Sandakan was among the districts in Sabah which was recording the highest cases and was in the red zone.
Kampung Pulau Timbang head, Lajim Sumadin, 62, said he was worried for the 435 villagers on the island if the delegations of candidates started visiting to campaign for by-election when the pandemic has not subsided.
“The potential of residents being infected with COVID-19 is high and worrying. More so when we are located far from the hospital. The government understands our worries and we are thankful to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for granting the emergency,” he told Bernama.
As at yesterday, the district of Sandakan recorded 1,459 active COVID-19 cases with 21 new cases and five clusters have been identified in Batu Sapi.
His brother, Praji Sumadin, 58, believed the government would not allow the people to suffer, more so when they are affected by the CMCO in force now.
“They came to hand over aid regardless of our background during CMCO. Now they show their concern about our worries (on the by-election during the pandemic),” he said.
Lintas Sibuga People’s Housing Programme (PPR) resident, Ali Basah Nusol, 61, said all parties should remember that now is the time to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and not to jostle for power and the Batu Sapi by-election can come after the COVID-19 is no longer a threat.
Acknowledging his responsibility as a voter of Batu Sapi, Ali Basah however felt the people in the constituency are wary of the potential of COVID-19 infection and hoped the by-election could be held when the entire Sandakan becomes a green zone again.
“Many have yet to receive government aid. I hope the efforts to contain the pandemic and assist the people should be felt first before other matters,” he said.
A single mother of four from the Batu Sapi PPR, Junaidah Onik,55, is thankful to the government which is still running smoothly despite being forced to sacrifice the by-election for the time being.
“While the virus is still prevalent, efforts to look after the welfare and health of the people should be the top priority including efforts to distribute aid to the residents affected by the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO),” she said.
The Agong yesterday declared an emergency in Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency under Clause 1 Article 150 of Federal Constitution which cancelled the by-election.
The Election Commission (EC) had set nomination day for Batu Sapi by-election on Nov 23 with polling day on Dec 5 and early voting on Dec 1.
The by-election was scheduled to be held following the death of its incumbent Datuk Liew Vui Keong on Oct 2 of a lung infection.