GERIK: Residents of Gerik are hopeful that a state of emergency will be declared in the parliamentary constituency to postpone a pending by-election.
People here say the spike in Covid-19 cases following the Sabah polls should be a lesson for everyone, even though Gerik is still in a green zone.
Roti canai seller, Halim Taha, 42, said it is crucial to declare a state of emergency here, especially since Gerik has recorded no Covid-19 cases so far.
“The Sabah state election should be a lesson for our politicians and us. As such, it is paramount for the government to declare an emergency here, just like in Batu Sapi.
“This is not the right time to play politics. We have suffered enough and we don’t want to see more people die from the virus. Don’t repeat the same mistake,” said Halim, who hails from Kampung Tanjung Kala, here.
The Gerik parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of its incumbent, Datuk Hasbullah Osman on Monday, due to a heart ailment at Raub Hospital, Pahang.
On Wednesday, the Dewan Rakyat notified the Election Commission (EC) of the vacant Gerik parliamentary seat.
Meanwhile, an octogenarian who only wished to be known as Cheong said having a by-election here would not change anything in the country.
“Gerik has many senior citizens, and by having a by-election here, it would pose a risk to us. A state of emergency should be declared because we do not want a by-election now.
“It is not safe for everyone. We do not know who will enter our kampungs, where they are coming from, if they are free from the virus. The people should come first, not politics,” said the 80-year-old who owns a sundry shop here.
Restaurant owner, Roslan Hashim, 60 said having a by-election would not bring any benefit right now because the people have suffered enough from the pandemic, and it would add salt to their wounds.
“During this Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) period, my business has dropped to about 70 per cent. I didn’t make any profit at all, but I still need to operate my restaurant.
“If the by-election is on, I believe Gerik will become just like Sabah. We will have new clusters and perhaps, the number of fatalities would also increase,” he said.
A villager from Kampung Gerik, Siti Rakna Talib, 53 said should there be a by-election, the seat must be retained by Barisan Nasional (BN).
“Gerik is traditionally a BN seat. Should there be a by-election, I hope only one candidate from BN will contest and no other rivals from other parties. The person must win without contesting.
“But it would be best not having a by-election at this moment. The government should not spend money on making preparation and such. The public’s health and safety must be prioritised over politics and elections.
“The county records four-digit cases almost daily, and we have no Covid-19 case in Gerik so far. This is a green zone. I hope it remains green until we find a cure for this virus,” she added.
Yesterday, Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu called for a state of emergency to be declared in Gerik to postpone the by-election from being held there.
Ahmad Faizal, who is also Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) deputy president, said the declaration is crucial to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and avoid another wave of the disease from emerging.
In the 14th general election, Hasbullah, from Umno, secured a 5,528 vote majority to win the Gerik seat, defeating candidates from Bersatu and Pas.
His death was the second involving an elected representative in Perak this year.
On July 15, Slim assemblyman Datuk Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib, 59, from BN, died of a heart attack. Nst