‘NO’ to strict SOPs for rural folk

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

KUCHING: Sarawak can achieve the target of 70 percent voter turnout in the upcoming 12th state election if the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in rural areas are not too restrictive.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law), Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the rural areas (in Sarawak) should have relaxed SOPs as most of them do not have internet access.

“It is true that the SOPs are necessary but they should not be too restrictive (for rural areas) otherwise it can affect the practice of democracy.

“I am confident that we can achieve the 70 percent target because my parliamentary constituency (Santubong), used to be able to reach 78 percent.

“I am confident that the people of Sarawak will come out to fulfill their responsibilities and I am also confident that the government will ensure the safety of voters,” he said when contacted by our reporter on Wednesday (Nov 24).

Elaborating further, the Santubong MP said if Sarawak is able to achieve the 70 percent target, it would show that Sarawakians are more mature and smart in handling elections.

He said if the percentage is lower than that, it shows the people’s trust is declining and they are not interested in the election.

“In Melaka, almost 70 percent (66 percent) of the people went to the polls, so I hope the target of 70 percent can be achieved in Sarawak.

“If it’s lower than that number, it shows the people’s trust is declining, proving people are not interested in elections – this is happening in developed countries, they are already bored,” he pointed out.

Wan Junaidi, who is also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Supreme Council member described the date announced by the Election Commission (EC) as appropriate.

“After the Sarawak State Assembly was dissolved on November 3, the state election must be held within 60 days from that date.

“In this regard, election should also be held in December and before January 3 next year.

“At the same time, December 25 is Christmas and January 1 is a public holiday. Therefore, December 18 is very suitable for Sarawak to hold election,” he said, adding that the date also gave almost a week to the Christians in Sarawak to make preparations to celebrate Christmas.

EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh said he was confident Sarawak could reach the target of 70 percent turnout in the upcoming 12th state election due to the relatively good turnout during the Melaka state election which was around 66 percent despite the Covid-19.