Bad move to have snap polls while country still grappling with pandemic, say experts

07 Jul 2020 / 10:09 H.

PETALING JAYA: The government should wait until the country is on firmer footing before dissolving Parliament and calling for a general election.

According to analysts and health experts, it would be inappropriate to hold snap elections when Malaysians are still dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

This, they said, is in spite of the fact that new Covid-19 infections have dropped to very low levels in recent weeks.

On the financial front, a general election will cost about half a billion ringgit, which may hurt the country’s coffers even more, having already spent or lost billions to the crisis.

Health wise, a shift in focus could lead the country to let down its guard and potentially lead to a rise in infections.

“The best thing to do is to see off the full term, and only call for an election when it is due in 2023,” Sabah UiTM political economist Dr Firdausi Suffian told theSun yesterday.

“The current crisis has badly affected a lot of people and businesses. We need to let the economy grow first. Right now, politicians should stop politicking, or they won’t be able to focus on regenerating the economy,” he added.

Firdausi was commenting on Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali’s statement that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government might call for a snap polls as early as this year, having met all the necessary criteria. The senior minister of International Trade and Industry said the government has already overcome political, economic and public health crises brought about by the pandemic.

However, Firdausi said it is still too early.

“They have to look at the data first, on how the country performed in terms of the gross domestic product in the second quarter. The issue of 770,000 Malaysians being unemployed has also not been resolved yet.

“SMEs are also still struggling. So, I don’t think they have really overcome the crises.”

Firdausi said Azmin’s statement that snap elections could be held very soon indicates that the government is confident of a victory.

Thomson Hospital Kota Damansara head of emergency services Dr Mohamed Al-Hadi Mohamed Razhi said it is too soon to claim victory over the public health crisis.

He said if anything, the war against Covid-19 is still ongoing although Malaysia has shown marked improvements, with numbers continuing to be on the low side.

On the possibility of snap elections being held this year, Al-Hadi said this could be done provided strict standard operating procedures (SOP) were put in place and international borders remain closed.

“I’m afraid if we open our borders, the numbers may go up again. Then, it will not be safe to hold elections. If they want to do it, do it now when numbers are on the low side.”

Malaysian Wellness Society president Datuk Dr Rajbans Singh said snap polls are not impossible to hold as long as strict SOP and guidelines are in place.

He suggested opening more polling centres and issuing specific times for each voter to ensure premises are not cramped with voters.

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