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KUCHING, Dec 2: In the interest of parliamentary democracy and in keeping with the principle of free and fair elections, the Election Commission (EC) must extend postal voting to all Sarawakians working or domiciled outside Sarawak, so that no voter is denied and deprived the right to vote on economic grounds.
Asserting this, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said this is especially true with high prices of flight tickets to Sarawak for the past weeks mainly due to flight restrictions into Sarawak by the Sarawak Government and Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC).
“Anyways, all these can be solved, if we had proper electoral reforms as suggested including implementing the necessary standard operating procedures (SOP) to enable absentee voting or extending postal voting for those working or studying outside the state especially in Sabah and Sarawak,” said Dr Yii in a statement today.
He said absentee or postal voting would make it easier for voters residing in other states to vote instead of them having to return home and causing a possible spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, especially in view of the new Omicron variant.
As the Election Commission has an office in every state, he suggested that these offices outside Sarawak could be used as polling stations to allow Sarawakians to cast their ballots.
He said it was disappointing in their responses to his debate in Parliament, the EC continues to be reluctant to take the necessary actions to make such reforms, citing that postal voting or even absentee voting in selected areas will be costly and logistically tougher to do.
“They even mentioned that people should change their voting area to the place they are currently staying for the convenience of the EC. I strongly disagree as people should be given the choice to choose where they want to vote especially their own home State.
“That is why there is little political will for the EC to reform even if it is for the good and safety of the people. The government must be kept accountable and take responsibility for this. Because of their (the EC’s) failure to adapt and reform, we have seen a deliberate act of ‘voter suppression’ which is against the spirit of democracy,” said Dr Yii.
He said that is why he tabled an Emergency Motion under Parliamentary Standing Order 18(1) to compel the Minister under the Prime Minister Department who oversees the Election Commission to justify the failure of the EC and to hopefully introduce drastic measures even during this parliament sitting so that Sarawakians living in West Malaysia and Sabah can vote where they are. — DayakDaily