Improvements to voting methods essential

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah during press conference the ACS vaccination centre. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

KUCHING: Improvements to the voting methods for the upcoming state and general elections are essential and welcomed to ensure the safety and health of the people.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said with the nation plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic, newer methods needed to be explored for elections to be held without endangering voters.

“Anything that can improve how citizens cast their votes without endangering their health in the forthcoming state or even general election is very much welcomed.

“It is for the Election Commission (EC) to make a thorough study of how electoral processes in other countries are done during the pandemic,” he told New Sarawak Tribune yesterday (July 30).

He was commenting on a suggestion raised by senior fellow at the Malaysian Council of Professors, Dr Jeniri Amir that a hybrid approach incorporating digital and traditional means be introduced in the upcoming state election.

“Definitely certain Election Laws might need to be amended to incorporate the changes, but I believe citizens and voters would welcome any changes in voting system.

“This will bring a safe, transparent and better mode of vote casting without compromising on voter’s right to secrecy on whom they voted as well as fairness in a democratic system,” Abdul Karim said.

Jeniri

On Wednesday, Jeniri who is also a political analyst said changes to methods of elections could be seen in other countries that had held elections during Covid-19.

“During the elections in South Korea, one of the changes made in terms of voting was that they opened up more channels. This is to avoid congestion and mass gatherings.

“In Singapore, they extended the voting period from 8am to 10pm. What we can also do (in Malaysia) is to extend the duration of polling from one day to two days,” he said.

He added in the current extraordinary circumstances, a new norm in election should be introduced that is outside of the convention.

“We can’t be trapped in a state where we must abide with the old ways,” Jeniri said.