Khairy: Monsoon season not suitable for elections

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Having an election during the monsoon period is not suitable due to logistical and health issues, says Khairy Jamaluddin.

The Health Minister said governments, by convention, usually would choose to avoid calling for polls when the country is expected to face flooding issues.

“During the monsoon period, a lot of human resources are required. They need to be mobilised to evacuate flood victims, as well as to manage evacuation centres.

“Also, a lot of schools will be used as evacuation centres, so this will be difficult if an election is held during flooding season, as schools are also used as polling centres.

“In terms of health, floods will increase the transmission of waterborne diseases.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

“So as the Health Ministry, of course, we will feel that it is not suitable if an election is held during the monsoon season,” said Khairy at a media interview on Wednesday (Sept 21).

When asked if the Health Ministry had conveyed this concern to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Khairy said it was something that should be well understood.

“The PM is aware and understands this, even if we don’t voice it out to him,” said Khairy.

Speculation is rife that the 15th General Election could be called around November this year.

Generally, the monsoon season would hit Malaysia between November to February.

Meanwhile, Bersih chairperson Thomas Fann said it would be an ‘irresponsible’ move on the prime minister’s part to call for an early election for political expediency at the expense of the rakyat.

He also stressed that the unnecessary expenses coming from the taxpayers’ pocket could be better used to restore the economy and build infrastructure.

“Calling for the 15th general election (GE15) during flood season would not only increase the logistical cost to run an election in the midst of flooding in some areas, but it would also affect voter turnout, as wading through the flood or even coming out in the rain may discourage some people from voting.

“To have an election that adds to the legitimacy of any elected government, a high voter turnout is necessary.

“A government which wins with a very low turnout would have a weak mandate to govern, and would very likely have difficulties in implementing tough, but necessary policies,” Fann was quoted as saying.

“Such a government would continue with populist policies that are detrimental to the long-term future of the country,” he added.

Fann was commenting on the recent remark by former Election Commission (EC) deputy chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar that holding a general election during the monsoon season would cost the government 10 percent more than usual, especially if it involves closed polling centres.

Separately, in a statement today, Bersih’s steering committee urged the prime minister to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to implement the anti-hopping constitutional amendments without further delay.

Gazetted on Sept 6, the actual date that the amendments should come into effect is expected to be announced by the ruler.

Previously, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar reportedly said it would be enforced by September.

“Bersih is curious as to why the enforcement of this amendment is being delayed. It was passed unanimously by both Houses of Parliament.

“As the 15th general election looms, it is imperative it comes into force so that voters can vote with peace of mind that their choice will not be invalidated due to post-election defections by elected MPs,” said the group.

Bersih suggested that the whole amendment – with the exception of the part related to the Eighth Schedule to the Federal Constitution – may come into force first, should the concern be the acceptance of the law at the state level.

This would require the consent of each state ruler.

“This is explicitly allowed under sections 1(2) and (3) of this amendment.

“There is no reason to delay the enforcement of the national consensus, which has been shown in the parliamentary voting, at the federal level,” said Bersih.