KUCHING: The Election Commission (EC) must be ready and should set a deadline for a postal vote process to be implemented in time for the Sarawak 12th state election, said Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.
He said the EC needs to start to look into certain adjustments and procedural reforms especially in implementing the necessary safety standard operating procedures (SOPs) including absentee voting or extending postal voting to either vulnerable populations or those working or studying outside the states, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.
“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 spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, as what had happened in Sabah,” he said in a Facebook post today.
He said this will require the EC gazette out-of-region voters as advance voters eligible for postal voting under Regulation 3 (1) (e) of the Elections (Advance Voting) Regulations 2012 to implement such a process.
“I strongly believe that in view of the pandemic, it is the EC’s duty to make it as convenient and safe as possible for voters to cast their votes.
“This includes safety and security measures to make sure any postal or absent voting process or facilities must be tamper-proof, transparent, fair and convenient for eligible voters so that it will instil public confidence on the system itself,” he said.
Dr Yii said any inconveniences imposed on voters either directly or indirectly through unnecessary regulations or non-availability of facilities can be construed as a suppression of the fundamental rights of a voter.
“Such reforms are important not just for the pandemic, but also to encourage more voter participation especially for elections held in Sabah and Sarawak.
“They should also not be further burdened financially or put at risk during this Covid-19 pandemic by having to travel back to their constituencies just to exercise their fundamental right to vote,” he said.
He added Bersih Sarawak has made an estimate that up to 20 percent of eligible Sabahan and Sarawakian voters are living and working in Peninsular Malaysia and a good number of citizens from the Peninsular are doing likewise in Sabah and Sarawak.
“That is why I call on the EC to expedite the process for postal voting or any other means to enable Malaysians who want to vote to do so without much inconvenience.
“Such reform is even more pertinent especially with the upcoming Sarawak state election that needs to be held latest by August 2021,” stressed Dr Yii.