The government has declared that Sarawak will continue to be under a state of emergency starting until 2 February 2022. Under the new proclamation which was consented by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah earlier this week and published as a Federal Government Gazette yesterday, the state has to postpone its election once again.
The additional six-month period will begin right after the national emergency proclamation that was originally announced back in January, expires tomorrow and will not be extended further. The Sarawak State Legislative Assembly was supposed to automatically dissolve last month but it was stalled by the proclamation.
Currently in its 18th term, the last state election in Sarawak took place on 7 May 2016. Sarawak’s is currently the only state election that isn’t held concurrently with the General Election and it has been that way since 1978.
James Jemut Masing, the Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, stated after the announcement that the state polls may still be held this year if the COVID-19 situation allows for it. When the state manages to flatten the curve, the DCM who is also the President of the Parti Rakyat Sarawak says they will petition the Agong to lift the emergency.
This is not the first time that COVID-related targeted emergency proclamation has affected elections though. Last year, there were already three by-elections that were deferred by such a proclamation, including Batu Sapi in November and Gerik as well as Bugaya in the following month.