2-week travel ban in and out of Melaka a welcome relief for some Umno leaders?

(Malaysia Now) – Authorities are expected to stop all non-residents from entering Melaka ahead of nomination day on Monday, posing a problem for several senior politicians who may have to enter the state today and stay put for two weeks if they want to take part in the campaign, MalaysiaNow has learnt.

This follows an election guideline imposing a 15-day ban from today on anyone other than registered voters entering the state.

According to the guideline issued by the state’s health department last month, the travel ban begins two days before nomination day and ends on polling day on Nov 20.

A source close to several top politicians in Umno and Bersatu said the move effectively bars ministers and other senior office bearers from taking part in the campaign.

“There is no way Cabinet members especially the prime minister can stay put in one state due to the nature of their work,” the source told MalaysiaNow.

The guideline however allows emergency travel into the state with police permission.

It also permits unvaccinated voters from outside Melaka to cross the border to cast their ballots on Nov 20, provided they obtain special permission. Their travel will however be restricted to one day before and after polling day.

The Umno source meanwhile said some top politicians are seeking ways to circumvent the restrictions, adding however that others are “silently happy about it”.

“Some are already speculating that the guideline is a welcome relief for some senior Umno leaders who are not comfortable with joining their party’s campaign that pits them against Bersatu leaders,” it added.

MalaysiaNow earlier reported on a dilemma faced by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on whether to be physically present in Melaka during the campaign period.

It was also reported that Ismail, who is answerable to Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi regarding party matters, had come under pressure to take part in the campaign.

A Pahang Umno insider had told MalaysiaNow that this would be problematic for Ismail, as Umno is set to clash with Bersatu and PAS candidates who will be contesting under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) banner.

Ismail came to power in August after Muhyiddin, the PN chairman and Bersatu president, pledged the support of some 50 MPs from the coalition.

Zahid, who led a campaign to topple Muhyiddin’s government after failing to get the Bersatu leader’s help in dozens of criminal cases, is adamant that Umno and Bersatu will not cooperate in the state polls, despite protests from Melaka Umno chiefs.

The situation is made worse for Umno as PAS, with which the Malay party had struck a charter of cooperation, has said it will contest the polls under PN.

When contacted, Melaka health director-general Dr Rusdi Abd Rahman said the guideline has yet to be finalised by the Election Commission, adding that it is not for public view.