Civil society groups in Sarawak have urged the Election Commission (EC) to address the issue of absentee voting for some 250,000 Sarawakians residing in the peninsula and Sabah ahead of the state election to be held on Dec 18.
The Sarawak Civil Society Organisations (CSO) said the EC should provide special voting arrangements for such individuals.
“The EC has a constitutional responsibility to make special voting arrangements for Sarawakians to vote towards the future of the state,” it said in a statement following the announcement of the polling date for the Sarawak election today.
While welcoming the EC’s decision to allow all Sarawakians abroad the right to vote by post in the state election, including those living in Singapore, Brunei, Kalimantan and southern Thailand, the CSO urged tbe EC to also come up with initiatives to allow postal voting for voters residing in states other than Sarawak.
It suggested that at least one special polling centre be set up in each state on early voting day.
“If voters who live and work in Singapore and Brunei are allowd by the EC to vote via postal voting as per Melaka, then voters residing in the peninsula and Sabah should be accorded the same access by expanding the existing absentee voting for them,” it said.
“After all, Singapore and Brunei are not part of the nation.”
The pandemic situation has made it even more important for the EC to extend such arrangements, the CSO added.
“It bears repeating that many Sarawakians migrate temporarily to the peninsula to earn a living or get an education,” it said.
“It is unfair for them if they have to spend money on expensive air fare just to fly across the sea to exercise their right to vote.”