Good voter turn-out not a fallacy

KUCHING: A good voter turn-out at the forthcoming 12th state election is possible even amidst the Covid-19 threat.

National Council of Professors (MPN) senior fellow Dr Jeniri Amir said this however would depend on the strategy and approaches taken by the authorities including the Election Commission (EC) to disseminate the right information to the voters.

“During the last state election, the turnout rate was about 70 percent and I believe the worry of political parties and EC is whether that figure can be retained amid the Covid-19 threat.”

Jeniri pointed out that about 50 countries worldwide had held their election during Covid-19. Of these, nine are Asian countries including South Korea and Singapore.

“In South Korea, they achieved a 66 percent turnout rate which is a record high since 1992. Singapore also registered a good turnout,” he said, pointing out that good voter turn-out during such pandemic was not a fallacy.

He added it is possible that when Sarawak holds its state election, the vaccines would have been rolled out to the population.

“The state government must take pragmatic steps to administer the vaccine to 2.8 million Sarawakians. If this can be done, I think it will give a confidence boost to the voters,” he said.

Jeniri added that the possibility of the emergency being lifted once the Covid-19 pandemic subsides in Sarawak to make way for the state election cannot be discounted.

“We shouldn’t reject the possibility that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) can appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for the emergency in the state to be lifted as it is not set in stone,” he said.

Jeniri said if the emergency expires on Aug 1, there will still be a six-month period after that where laws promulgated during emergency would continue to be in effect.

“Meaning we still can’t hold the state election unless the Agong issues another ordinance to ensure that there is a new law (to facilitate the state election).

“I believe that in the context of the state election, the Agong and the Yang di-Pertuan Negeri need to have a consultation as the power to dissolve the State Legislative Assembly and other related powers rest with the latter,” he said.

The academician also said among the challenges that needed to be addressed by the EC includes managing the public’s safety concerns on polling day.