PUTRAJAYA: Setting the maximum number of people allowed to be at the nomination centre and the new normal in the election campaign are among the standard operating procedures (SOP) expected to be introduced for the Chini state by-election in Pahang next month.
Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun said this needs to be done as the by-election has been called amid the Covid-19 crisis.
“On the nomination day, for example, the new SOP will see only a limited number of people allowed to be at the nomination centre, unlike in the Semenyih and Tanjung Piai by-elections previously.
“During those two by-elections, we saw about 5,000 to 8,000 supporters of the contesting parties flocking to the nomination centre. Now, such a situation will not be possible,” he said in a recent exclusive interview with Bernama TV at his office here.
Azhar said the SOP were formulated through engagement sessions with the Ministry of Health (MOH), National Security Council (MKN), National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) and the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM).
Apart from the nomination, he said the proposed SOP also encompassed procedures concerning the printing of the ballot papers, postal voting, early voting, campaign period, polling day, and during the night when the results are announced.
“On the campaign period, for instance, if the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) is still in force, public gathering of more than 20 people will definitely not be allowed.
“So, a ceramah or campaign that will be allowed is probably the one held via the mass media or internet, or even a mobile unit operating from a parked car or van without the public flocking around it,” he said.
Azhar, however, said that the special SOP had yet to be finalised as it depends on the government’s directives relating to the Covid-19 situation in the country.
“We are still open for ideas to improve the SOP and we are looking for a deadline as close as June 20 to finalise it,” he said.
The EC has set the nomination for the Chini state by-election on June 20, with early voting on June 30 and polling on July 4.
The by-election is being called after the incumbent, Datuk Seri Abu Bakar Harun, died of a heart attack at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital on May 6.
In the 14th general election (GE14) in May 2018, Abu Bakar polled 10,027 votes to win the seat by a majority of 4,622 votes against PAS candidate Mohd Fadhil Noor Abdul Karim who obtained 5,405 votes and Mohamad Razali Ithnain of PKR (1,065 votes).
The by-election is the first ever called during the Movement Control Order period. - Bernama