Former Sarawak minister slams GPS govt’s plans for state election this year
Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Datuk Sri Wong Soon Koh addresses a press conference in Kuching January 23, 2021. — Picture bySulok Tawie

KUCHING, Jan 23 — Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh today slammed his former Cabinet colleagues in the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) for insisting that the 12th state election must go ahead this year.

He said the GPS government would be risking the health and lives of the people should the state election proceed this year.

“For the sake of the people’s health and lives, it would be unwise for the GPS government to consider an early election.

“After all, the mandate given to the present GPS government still has a long way to go, some six months in fact,” he said when responding to a statement by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing yesterday.

Wong, who resigned as the state’s second minister of finance in 2018, said there is no need to rush the election, adding that the government should place public health above everything else, along with efforts to help the people overcome the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In a time of crisis, as we are facing now, government intervention has become the cornerstone of the Covid-19 response, as the people will look to a government that can organise and mobilise to save lives and livelihood,” he added.

He said the state Cabinet should devote its time to devising more ways of providing financial assistance to help workers stay in their jobs and businesses survive.

He said PSB would like to urge the GPS government to prioritise its duties and responsibilities, adding that an early election should be of low priority.

Wong, who is also Bawang Assan State assemblyman, said the state Cabinet ought to, at this critical juncture, dedicate itself to bringing the pandemic under control.

He added the GPS government had taken a misstep, which was to allow those returning to Sarawak to undergo home quarantine, and this had led to the current Covid-19 outbreak.

“It is now time to put in place more stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs) to stop the pandemic, and not change policies and regulations which may create confusion among the people, or worse, cause them to make them feel disheartened,” he said.

In a statement yesterday, Masing said the Sarawak state Cabinet had informally discussed the possibility of holding the state election once the pandemic situation had improved.

He also said the state government might appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to lift the state of Emergency in Sarawak to allow the state election to be held.