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KUCHING, Nov 6: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has proposed to the Election Commission (EC) to allow some 200,000 Sarawakians residing in Peninsular Malaysia to register as postal voters.
This would allow the Sarawakians abroad to exercise their rights as voters amid the coming state election due in 2021.
Dr Yii said he has discussed the matter with EC chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.
“In my debate in Parliament, I pushed for the EC to implement such system, as there are currently about 200,000 registered Sarawakian voters that are residing in cities in Peninsular Malaysia, either for work or studies.
“These figures have not taken into account the new registrations, as well as the implementation of the automatic voters registration, which will significantly increase the numbers,” he said in a statement.
The Democratic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker added that the EC chairman was positive on the proposal. He said more meetings will be set up to follow up on the progress.
“We will continue to push this matter as we strongly believe that the right to vote for every Sarawakians should be protected and we should facilitate all of them to exercise their rights to vote in the coming elections,” he said.
Allowing these voters to vote in the peninsula itself, or as postal voters, will boost voters turnout, while removing obstacles for them to fulfil their rights and responsibilities as voters.
“For many of these workers or students, to fly back to Sarawak to vote is not just about a flight to Kuching, Sibu and Miri, but may also require a long boat ride, or even 4-wheel-drive ride into the interiors just to reach to their villages or longhouses.
“This not only takes time and leave from their work or studies, but may cost a lot of money, which many may not be able to afford,” he said.
Dr Yii pointed out that the uncertain polling date that could fall after the school semester break or a major celebration may also pose an inconvenience for many to go home to vote.
Some will have to pay extra to come home to vote, especially if they had just returned from Sarawak for the festive season or semester breaks. Students might have to skip classes just to fulfil their responsibilities to vote, he continued.
“That’s why I strongly believe that all Sarawakians’ right to vote should be strongly protected and these obstacles should be addressed to facilitate them to better fulfil their voting responsibility.
“They should also have a say in the running of the state and that right should not be taken away just because of logistical issues or even cost,” Dr Yii said. — DayakDaily