New SOP for Melaka polls deemed right move to stop Covid-19

MALACCA – The Ministry of Health’s (MOH) move to prohibit all election-related activities, rallies and social gatherings with effect from tomorrow until Nov 27, comes as welcome news and a great relief for communities in the state.

The ban alleviates general anxiety that the run-up to the Melaka State Election (PRN) will cause COVID-19 outbreaks and rob communities of their newfound ‘liberties’.

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It is not just political parties which must adhere to the announcement that bans a litany of events in launching of election machinery and rallies, the communities are also wary of leaders’ past reluctance to comply with the prohibitions stated.

A private sector employee Saadiah Ismail, 36, from Klebang said a stricter standard operating procedure (SOP) is vital to ensure that safety and health of citizens are not compromised.

“We have seen from mass media, video and photographs on how a venue gets congested whenever a political leader goes to the ground. Party machinery is also by no means small, and they come from within and outside Melaka.

“I believe full compliance with SOPs is unlikely to be observed properly going by the frenzy to campaign and attract voters. The prohibitions are most timely and befitting,” she told Bernama here today.

Concurring with Saadiah, a restaurateur Muhammad Ismail Rahmad, 44, said he couldn’t agree more with MOH’s move and insisted that besides political leaders, citizens too must observe the SOP to prevent outbreaks in the state.

“Citizens have made a big sacrifice and endured misery due to COVID-19, and should there be an outbreak due to the Melaka PRN, it will have a more adverse effect on citizens,” he said.

Housewife Afidah Musa, 36, from Cheng, said lessons should be learned from what happened following the Sabah state election last year, and not be repeated at all costs.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Melaka chapter chairman Goh Hock Gin said the Melaka PRN posed a huge risk to another COVID-19 outbreak, which called for a special SOP to be put in place.

“Right now, it’s not just the economic aspect but also a matter of life and death for citizens. For tourism industry players, we just heaved a sigh of relief as state borders were opened. If cases start to rise again, we worry that the tourism sector will be shut down again, leading to more losses for us,” he said.

Minister of Health Khairy Jamaluddin when announcing the ban today said that the prohibitions are in line with the latest list of unauthorised activities (list of negatives) under Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan (PPN).

He said in the event of a violation, an individual, sponsor or organisation would be subject to legal action such as compounds or prosecution in court under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).

On Monday (Oct 18), the Election Commission (SPR) fixed the nomination day for Melaka PRN on Nov 8 and election day on Nov 20.

The Melaka PRN is being held following the dissolution of the Melaka State Legislative Assembly (DUN) on Oct 4 when four state assemblymen (ADUN) withdrew support for Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali.

The four ADUN were Datuk Seri Idris Haron (BN-Sungai Udang), Datuk Nor Azman Hassan (BN-Pantai Kundor), Datuk Norhizam Hassan Baktee (Independent-Pengkalan Batu) and Datuk Noor Effandi Ahmad (Bersatu-Telok Mas).