KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) clarified today that events and gatherings related to the Melaka state election can be held outside the state’s borders.
An MOH official said the ministry imposed the maximum compound of RM10,000 on Barisan Nasional (BN) for the violation of Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) at the ruling coalition’s election machinery launch for the Melaka poll at the World Trade Centre (WTC) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The offence, he said, was the breach of SOPs, not organising the Melaka election event itself as that is permitted in Phase 4 states outside the state of Melaka.
“Election-related events outside Melaka are allowed,” the MOH official told CodeBlue.
When asked if Pakatan Harapan (PH) is permitted to organise events related to the Melaka election outside Melaka, he said: “Yes, as long as they follow Phase 4 SOPs.”
The Klang Valley and Negeri Sembilan, which neighbours Melaka, are currently in Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan, besides Johor, Labuan, Pahang, and Terengganu.
The MOH official also explained that BN’s election machinery launch at WTC last night followed a 50 per cent capacity limit within the hall, as per the rules.
The problem was the lack of physical distancing between attendees outside the hall.
When asked why individuals were not issued compounds during BN’s election machinery launch, the MOH official said there were not many health officers present at the event. They also possibly did not personally witness any infractions, such as not wearing face masks.
Several Umno lawmakers, including Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Higher Education Minister Noraini Ahmad and former Prime Minister Najib Razak, were present at BN’s Melaka election machinery launch last night.
However, MOH can initiate investigations after the event based on photographs or videos of SOP breaches.
The MOH official explained that the ministry’s prohibitions on election-related activities are focused on Melaka as most campaigning for the state election will be held in the state itself.
“All the gatherings will be there. There’s a higher risk of gathering of people and higher risk of infection.”
He also highlighted the difference between social gatherings and election campaigning at coffee shops, for example, where the latter involves people gathering in close quarters whereas the former involves people eating at distanced tables.
“It’s really hard to follow SOPs and very hard to control [election events],” said the MOH official, citing the Sabah state election and other by-elections.
Muda co-founder Lim Wei Jiet complained about alleged double standards in law enforcement, pointing out that his party was fined RM4,000 for holding a press conference with five people in Melaka in an open space, compared to RM10,000 for BN’s event in Kuala Lumpur with hundreds of attendees in an enclosed hall.
According to CovidNow’s website, hospital admissions of Covid-19 patients are rising in the Klang Valley, Johor, Kedah, Pahang, Sabah, and Terengganu. Hospital admissions have been plateauing in Melaka for the past two weeks after a decline.