ANN/THE STRAITS TIMES – Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said holding the general election amid the monsoon season will not be suitable due to logistical as well as health concerns.
He said governments, by convention, would usually avoid calling for polls at a time when a flood contingency was expected.
“During the monsoon, a great deal of human resources is required. Personnel need to be mobilised to evacuate flood victims as well as manage the evacuation centres. Many schools will be used as evacuation centres, so it will be difficult if an election is held during the flood season as schools are also used as polling centres,” he told a special media briefing at his ministry on Wednesday.
Malaysia’s annual monsoon season typically starts around late November and will last until February.
Last year, eight of the 11 states in Peninsular Malaysia were hit by floods around December, with parts of the country seeing the heaviest rainfall in 100 years, officials had said.
On the health front, Khairy said the floods would lead to higher transmission of waterborne diseases.
“So of course as the Health Ministry, we feel that it is not suitable if the general election is held during the monsoon season,” he said.
Asked if the ministry had conveyed its reservations to Prime Minister (PM) Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Khairy said “this is something that should be well understood”.
“The PM is aware and understands… even if we don’t voice it out to him,” he pointed out.
To a question on whether the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday had decided on when Parliament would be dissolved to pave the way for the 15th General Election (GE15), Khairy said: “Just by making normal calculations you will probably be able to figure out when.
“Parliament has to be dissolved by mid-next year, at the latest. And there are certain months that the election is less likely to be held.”
He said regardless of when the general election was called, the ministry would be ready to swing into action.
“I want my officers and staff members to be prepared. Once Parliament is dissolved, the ministry has to operate on autopilot. We must ensure there is continuity so that all plans can be executed even when I am no longer the minister,” he said.
Ismail hinted that the polls would be held soon in a speech last Saturday when launching the election machinery of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition’s youth wing.
There has been widespread speculation on Malaysian social media that the government will dissolve Parliament on October 14 and the general election will be held on November 27, with Nomination Day on November 12.
BN chairman and UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi recently said the national polls could be held even during the rainy and flooding season at the end of the year.