Bersih 2.0: Complete ban on political gatherings before the elections in Melaka unfair to candidates and voters | Malaysia

Bersih 2.0 suggested that polling day be extended to three days to avoid massive voter traffic. – Photo by Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR, October 25 – Election watchdog Bersih 2.0 said today that proper and fair Covid-19 standard operating procedures must be introduced to allow Melaka state election candidates to campaign.

While acknowledging the risk of a potential increase in Covid-19 cases, he stressed that the government must offer alternatives to ensure the establishment of clean and fair electoral procedures.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health (MoH) announced today that it is banning all activities, gatherings or social gatherings related to the political campaign for next month’s poll in Melaka.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin cited the Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Act 1988, also known as Law 342, to ban it.

“While we recognize that the risk is real and that precautions are necessary, a total ban is a removal of the right of all candidates to campaign and to speak out, the right of voters to make an informed decision by listening to the candidates, and is ultimately a suppression of democracy itself, ”he said in a statement this morning.

He added that although the ban affected all political parties, the playing field was already a level playing field, with state media allegedly focusing on the achievements and activities of the ruling party while touting the failures of the opposition. .

“Bersih 2.0 calls on the Minister of Health to reconsider the total ban on physical gatherings and to implement a stricter application of the SOP described by the national recovery plan (PNR) by increasing the number of officers responsible for the application during the election period in Melaka.

“Any offender, regardless of party affiliation, should be fined or prosecuted under the Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Act 1988,” he added.

Bersih’s 2.0 SOP proposal began with a nomination process where parties would have to submit their nomination papers to the State Election Commission (EC) within seven days and a surprise rejection should be avoided.

During the campaign, Bersih 2.0 suggested that all physical gatherings respect appropriate social distancing and that face masks should be worn at all times.

“For political gatherings or ceramahs, chairs must be provided and they must be at least one meter apart, and all participants must be seated. This should also apply to small gatherings in cafes and day or night markets. Face masks must be worn at all times by all speakers and participants.

“For home visits, the number of people allowed to be part of a group should be limited to five and they should not enter a house, nor be at least two meters from households when speaking,” said he declared.

For Election Day, Bersih 2.0 suggested that this could be extended to three days, which will be divided into different categories such as age groups to avoid massive voter traffic.

“Unvaccinated voters should not be unduly hampered in exercising their right to vote. A health safety booth could be set up to provide instant RTK-Antigen saliva or nasal swab tests to confirm they are negative for Covid-19 before they are allowed to vote with other voters.

“Those who test positive should be allowed to vote separately from others in the health booth,” he added.

He also suggested that gatherings at counting and tallying centers should also be limited and that all results be broadcast live on national TV channels.

Yesterday DAP General Secretary Lim Guan Eng berated Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin for banning all physical gatherings due to Covid-19 ahead of the upcoming elections in Melaka state.

The Bagan lawmaker alleged the decision was made amid the fear of the ruling Perikatan Nasional coalition to face voters following recent events.

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Sara H. Byrd

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