M'sia's PM Muhyiddin admits 3rd Covid-19 wave was caused by Sabah elections

Covid-19 cases spiked as campaigning during the elections were underway.

Kayla Wong | November 19, 2020, 03:15 PM

Malaysia's Prime Minister Yassin Muhyiddin said the country's third and current wave of Covid-19 infections was caused by the Sabah state elections.

Covid-19 cases spiked due to Sabah state polls

Speaking in a live broadcast on Wednesday, Nov. 18, Muhyiddin was explaining why Sabah's Batu Sapi by-election, originally scheduled to take place on Dec. 5, had to be postponed.

A state of emergency had allowed the by-election to be delayed.

According to The Star, he explained that although the Election Commission (EC) had set tight health protocols for the elections, compliance was weak, which made it hard to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

He said the number of cases in Sabah jumped from 808 on nomination day on Sep. 12 to 1,547 on election day on Sep. 26.

A month later, the state reported 11,285 cases, which was the first time a Malaysian state had recorded more than 1,000 cases.

Muhyiddin said the Cabinet had taken into account "the consequences of the Covid-19 transmission in Sabah following the elections in September", which explained why they decided to postpone the by-election.

He also said election workers were worried about getting infected during their duty, adding that the EC only managed to appoint 143 election workers, out of the 837 they needed to conduct the by-election.

By-election to be held as soon as pandemic is controlled

Muhyiddin further said the by-election would be held as soon as the Covid-19 pandemic is over, Malay Mail reported.

In addition, he assured residents that "government administration, economic and social activities" can continue even with the declaration of emergency.

The Malaysian public had generally attributed the spike in infections in Sabah to the frequent interactions between politicians and voters in the lead-up to the Sep. 26 elections.

Thousands of politicians and party volunteers, along with Cabinet ministers, after returning to their home states in the wake of the polls, also contributed to a spike in Covid-19 cases in the rest of Malaysia.

The Sabah state polls had boosted Muhyiddin's political standing amid a leadership challenge on the federal level posed by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

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Top image via Astro Awani