Lifting of Emergency in Sarawak a difficult decision, but not entirely unexpected, says Baru Bian

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Selangau MP Baru Bian addresses members of the media at the Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur August 2, 2021. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Selangau MP Baru Bian addresses members of the media at the Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur August 2, 2021. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUCHING, Nov 3 — Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman Baru Bian today said the lifting of the Emergency in Sarawak does not surprise him as there were signs that the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) was gearing up for the state election.

He said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was gracious to assent to the ending of the Emergency.

“The Agong must have found it awkward to refuse the request of Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and the chief minister, as his Majesty is conscious of the necessity of showing some reciprocity of respect in view of our special position in the Federation of Malaysia,” Baru, who is also the Selangau MP, said in response to the decision earlier this evening.

He said the statement from the Palace stressed that it was a difficult decision for the Agong, who has expressed concern that holding elections now could have serious repercussions in view of the Covid-19 situation in Sarawak.

He said the chief minister and his advisers must be prepared to take responsibility should there be another wave of infections after the state election, if it is held while Covid-19 numbers remain high.

“Our ICU beds are reported to be at 80 per cent occupancy, and one of our deputy chief ministers was laid to rest today, having passed away from complications brought on by the Covid-19 infection,” Baru said, referring to the death of Tan Sri James Masing.

“I believe it was an unwise move on their part to request the Agong to lift the Emergency. I hope and pray that no Sarawakians will have to pay the ultimate price for their folly,” he said.

Baru suggested that Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg is afraid of the Undi18 voters who would only be able to cast their ballot after December 31.

“If he really is not afraid of Undi18 and the previously unregistered voters, let him put his money where his mouth is and delay the elections until next year when Covid-19 numbers are more manageable,” he said.

Separately, Sarawak PKR Women secretary Cherishe Ng said there is absolutely no reason for the state election to be held so soon, especially when the Emergency was slated to end in February.

“Amidst high death rates and the much-anticipated implementation of Undi18, we could very well have waited until February.

“The move by GPS to have the Emergency lifted and push for elections is an unwarranted move that will not only put people’s lives at risk, but also undermines the votes of those aged 18 and above,” she said

She said it is apparent that GPS is afraid of Undi18 voters.

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