The Chini state by-election campaign has entered its fifth day today and yet the atmosphere is subdued with the constituency still lacking that ‘lively' election atmosphere.

There are those who are of the view that by adhering to the special standard operating procedures (SOPs), aimed at preventing large gatherings in efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19 infection, has somehow affected the face-to-face campaign.

The Election Commission (EC) has also encouraged the candidates to utilise social media during their 14-day campaign period.

During Bernama checks today, there were not many campaign materials such as posters and flags installed compared with the usual election atmosphere where there were wars of posters and flags of contesting candidates and their respective parties.

Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Mohd Sharim Md Zain said that the delay in installing the campaign materials was due to the fact that party machinery had to ensure that their campaign activities did not violate the SOPs set by the EC.

“There are already posters and flags are being installed and more will be added gradually as campaign intensifies,” he said.

Thus far only BN posters, banners and flags installed at strategic places including junctions while any materials related to the two independent candidates, Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin and Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli, yet to be seen.

Blogger Mohd Shukri had earlier stated that he would prioritise online campaigns following the enforcement of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), adding that he was more comfortable with online methods while Tengku Zainul Hisham has said that his campaign was more of listening to the concerns of the locals.

However, all three candidates were seen conducting the traditional 'walkabout' and house-to-house campaigns but in a small group of people as stipulated in the SOPs.

In terms of permit to hold the ‘ceramah’ (political talks), the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) has approved 12 applications for permit with all involving BN candidates, and conducted by adhering to the SOPs such as small number of audience as well as being broadcast live via online platforms.

Apart from using social media platforms to campaign, the BN machinery was also seen using mobile trucks, decorated with LED lights and a PA speaker system to introduce BN candidate to the villagers.

Despite the efforts, some voters felt that the atmosphere was not as exciting as the previous elections.

One of them, Wan Islahuddin Ali, 41, from Kampung Salong, said that he could not feel the excitement of the election even though the three candidates went down to the ground to meet the people.

“This by-election is very different. Home-to-house campaigns by candidates are more like visiting relatives because they are accompanied by only a few individuals. There is no immediate excitement,” he said.

Another voter, Othman Saad, 67, said that he only learned of the Chini state by-election after watching the news on television.

“I thought I am the only one who isn’t aware that the election campaign is currently ongoing, apparently there are others who said the same thing,” he said.

Polling day for the Chini state by-election has been set for July 4.