RMCO: Chini by-election candidates start campaigning amid new normal

A health worker sanitises the area around the Chini by-election nomination centre in Pekan, June 19, 2020. ― Bernama pic
A health worker sanitises the area around the Chini by-election nomination centre in Pekan, June 19, 2020. ― Bernama pic

PEKAN, June 21 — The Chini state seat by-election campaign entered its second day today and all candidates started campaigning in a different atmosphere as the country is still battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the past candidates would go to the ground to meet up with voters in a friendly atmosphere but things are a bit different this time around with the adoption of the new normal practices following the enforcement of the Recovery movement control order (RMCO), as part of efforts to curb Covid-19 infection.

The introduction of special operating procedures (SOPs) for the Chini by-election by the Election Commission (EC) saw all three candidates carrying out their campaign activities using a more moderate approach.

Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Mohd Sharim Md Zain, 41, said he had to change and improve the campaign schedule to suit the SOPs.

“Although Chini is a Covid-19 green zone, we are complying with the SOPs by taking body temperature, providing hand sanitisers and face masks,” he said when met by reporters after a walkabout around Bandar Dara Chini this morning accompanied by his two supporters.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin, 64, said he found it awkward initially but was getting used to it.

“It was a bit awkward at first for me to get used to it, but over time I understood that it needed to be adhered to for my own benefit and the community here,” he said.

In his walkabout and door-to-door session, Tengku Zainul Hisham was practising social distancing and he was accompanied only by two supporters.

Yesterday, the EC approved several amendments to the SOPs for the Chini by-election, by allowing candidates and parties to hold the ‘ceramah’ (political talks) with not more than 250 participants at any one time and subject to the size of the venue as well as limited to only indoor premises, apart from complying with the existing SOPs.

Physical contact such as shaking hands is strictly prohibited and organisers must ensure compliance to the existing rules as well as the SOPs such as practising social distancing, wearing face masks, using sanitiser, taking of body temperature and attendance record.

Candidates are also encouraged to maximise their campaign methods online or through social media sites.

Another independent candidate Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli, 49, said he had no problem adhering to the SOPs for the by-election because as a blogger he has been using the online platform for a long time.

Mohd Shukri said he would also use online radio broadcasts through the Facebook page under the CMKFM account to convey his by-election messages.

“I don’t think there is any problem in adhering to the SOPs. Maybe these new normal practices are causing some difficulties to others, but I am used to online platforms,” he said.

The Chini state by-election on July 4 is a three-cornered fight between Mohd Shukri, Tengku Zainul Hisham and Mohd Sharim for the seat which fell vacant following the death of its incumbent Datuk Seri Abu Bakar Harun, 60, from BN on May 7.

In the 14th general election (GE14), Abu Bakar defended the Chini state seat with a majority of 4,622 votes after securing 10,027 votes, while PAS candidate Mohd Fadhil Noor Abdul Karim received 5,405 dan Mohamad Razali Ithnain (PKR) obtained 1,065 votes. — Bernama

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