Padungan rep: New rural voters the kingmakers in next Sarawak state election

Wong at a press conference in Kuching today (July 17, 2019).

By Lian Cheng and Emellia Tamoh

KUCHING, July 17: Democratic Action Party (DAP) Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei says the Sarawak state election will be the testing ground to determine who will reap the benefits of the new legislation lowering the voting age to 18 and legalising the automatic registration of voters.

He admitted that for the time being, he was unable to tell how the policy would affect the results of the Sarawak state election which must be called by June 2021 but he believed that it will change the whole voting trend.

“I think it will change the whole voting trend or even political landscape of the coming state election. The Sarawak state election will be the testing ground as to who will have the advantage following such amendments.

“To be frank, I can’t really read what will be the end result but what is needed to be done, what is rightful to be done has to be done,” said Wong in a press conference here today.

Wong was commenting on the passing of amendments to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, and automatic registration of all eligible voters in Parliament recently.

He said the policy would take immediate effect after it was passed in Parliament and with that, there will be a tremendous increase in rural voters as many of them have yet to register.

To him, these new rural voters will be the kingmakers in the coming Sarawak state election.

“For the Sarawak election, the rural voters will be the kingmakers because we have a lot of first timers. And the majority of the first time voters come from rural areas. And it is for GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) or Pakatan Harapan (PH) or whichever political parties to try our very best to gain the support of the rural voters.

“And those who have the majority support from the rural voters will be the last winner (sic). This is my prediction,” said Wong.

He opined the results of the 2016 state election and 2018 general election would not be an effective indicator to gauge the voting trends, patterns, habits and attitudes of the electorate in the next state election.

He said all political parties will be uncertain of voting patterns for voters between the age of 18 to 21 because there was no prior experience which could tell how the group of voters cast their votes.

Despite so, he believed that the amendment to lower the voting age to 18 as well as the legalisation of automatic registration for those eligible should be done because it is the constitutional right of every citizen to vote, and nothing should hinder them from doing so.