Call to set up voting station exclusively for vulnerable groups

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KUCHING: The Election Commission (EC) should set up a dedicated voting station for vulnerable groups such as the elderly during the polls, a political analyst has suggested.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s Professor Datuk Mohd Fadzil Abdul Rahman said this initiative needed to be taken to avoid any undesirable circumstances.

“My concern is not only about the voting day itself, but also the entire process leading up to the polls.

“It is best to separate vulnerable groups, including the elderly and those with health conditions, to keep them safe.

“For instance, vulnerable persons can enter using the front entrance, while those in good health can enter through the back door, so that they don’t meet and the queue will not be long.

“Elections are only held once every five years, so what’s a little stretch to the budget to look into voter safety? How can we put people first if we cannot invest in them?”

“The EC should consider this as the safety of the people should be top priority,” he said on Monday (Oct 25).

Regarding calls to postpone election, Prof Fadzil said: “I’m sure the current government is anxious (about election), but they are also trapped in a situation in which Sarawak is still under the emergency proclamation until February next year.

“To hold an election this time, many aspects must be considered, including the fact that the emergency has not been lifted, the necessity to ensure that at least 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated, and the implementation of Undi18.”

“As such, we must understand that it is not so much about clinging to power. It’s about the situation and circumstances that do not allow such things to be taken, and having said that, I’m confident that the state government also wants to hold fresh election soonest to obtain the rakyat’s mandate,” he added.

Prof Fadzil urged full participation from all parties if polls were to be held shortly.

“The standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place must be tight and the authorities involved should be ready and all the contesting candidates should be mindful and not be carried away, especially if there are campaigns and ‘rapat umum’ (public meetings).

“All those involved should already have a thorough planning on how to manage the election and voting process by now.”

Pertaining to voter turnout, he predicted that the election would be more challenging than ever, as the younger generation (through Undi18) would also be participating this time.

“I believe that if all preparations, SOPs and decisions are convincing, majority will go out to vote, knowing that their safety is prioritised.

“But if otherwise, I fear that many will be hesitant, and, worst of all, we will have to deal with another wave of Covid-19 cases.” 

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