KUALA LUMPUR – May 22, 2020: The Election Commission (EC) will be ready in the event a snap general election is called while the country is still in the Covid-19 crisis.
EC chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun said managing a large-scale general election while the country is dealing with the pandemic would be challenging but not impossible.
He said the commission began preparing for this eventuality when the Dewan Rakyat recently accepted a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, which was filed by his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Ever since the the Movement Control Order (MCO) came into effect, I have tasked the (EC) secretariat to constantly monitor the developing situation just in case we need to be ready for a by-election or snap election,” he said in an interview with The Mole.
The possibility of a snap general election should arise if Muhyiddin is defeated when the motion is tabled upon which he could dissolve parliament and call for a fresh general election.
The motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin could be tabled as early as the start of the next parliament sitting on July 13.
Azhar said whatever election it is, the EC will always take into consideration the advice from relevant authorities like National Security Council (NSC), Health Ministry, the police and even the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).
“For example, if the election date happens to fall during a conditional movement control order (CMCO) period, then the EC would have to draft relevant standard operating procedures to adhere to CMCO,” he said.
The cost, he added, of holding a general election during such a condition would be significantly higher.
“To adhere to new and changing SOPs, we need to be able to provide face masks, sanitizers, temperature meters, special tents and some staff members may even need to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). So, yes, doing an election now will be more expensive.
“If we are living a new normal in our life, then there will also be a new normal for our elections,” he said.
Azhar had previously explained that holding an election during the current partial lock-down means that there is a necessity to limit the number of voters at each voting stream.
The voters will also need to be informed of the recommended time for them to cast their ballots.
Azhar also ruled out the possibility of using an online voting system, citing the likely lack of public confidence in its security.