UPDATED 7.43PM | The Election Commission (EC) will decide whether to declare a state of emergency in the Gerik parliamentary and Bugaya state constituencies to postpone the Jan 16 by-elections for both seats, according to Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob.At a press conference today, Ismail Sabri reiterated that Putrajaya will not interfere in the electorate matter and as an independent body, EC would make its decision after discussing with the National Security Council (NSC) and the Health Ministry. He said this when asked if there was a need to declare a state of emergency for Gerik in Perak and Bugaya in Sabah, just as it was done for the Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency, also in Sabah."The way we look at the Bugaya seat, which is part of the Semporna district that is currently placed under the conditional movement control order (MCO) while a few areas of the district are now under a total lockdown. Semporna once recorded high Covid-19 cases," Ismail Sabri said."The same with Gerik in Perak, where the entire state was placed under conditional MCO," he told a press conference after attending a special meeting of the NSC today."However, I believe that EC will decide on the next course of action after having a discussion with the Health Ministry and NSC," he said."It is unknown if there is a need to proclaim a state of emergency. We will let them (decide) after the meeting. The government, as I said before, will not interfere in matters like this because EC is an independent body," he said.Earlier today, the EC announced that the by-elections for both Gerik and Bugaya would be held on Jan 16.The by-elections must be called to fill vacancies due to the recent deaths of the incumbents, Umno's Gerik MP Hasbullah Osman and rWarisan's Bugaya assemblyperson Manis Muka Mohd Darah.On Nov 16, Hasbullah died of a heart attack in Raub, Pahang.Manis Muka Mohd DarahA day later, Manis Muka passed away at Gleneagles Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, where she had been admitted for kidney problems.The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, had previously assented to declare a state of emergency in Batu Sapi, Sabah, in order to cancel the by-election initially scheduled to be held this month.In announcing the matter, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said proceeding with the by-election would pose a health threat to the public, based on lessons from the Sabah state election that sparked the third wave of Covid-19 outbreak.The Batu Sapi by-election was called following the death of its incumbent Liew Vui Keong last month.
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