Saturday, January 22, 2022

Kuching court dismisses bid by youths to stop Sarawak polls

The High Court says the automatic right to vote does not mean instantaneous.

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The Kuching High Court today dismissed a bid by three Sarawakian youths to stop the state election on Dec 18 and to update the electoral roll so that they can vote under Undi 18.

Judicial commissioner Alexander Siew dismissed the legal action brought by the youths for a judicial review, saying the automatic right to vote does not mean instantaneous.

“Under the election regulations there are processes to be followed,” he said.

“The registrar still needs to check if a person is qualified to vote. Under the amendment to the Federal Constitution, there is no need to apply, and it is automatic in that sense.”

He also said that under the new system, the electoral roll would be updated every month compared to the old system which was updated every three months.

Avril Clarice Chin Ning, 18, and Ivan Alexander Ong and Addam Johanson Jeremy Shayne, both 19, filed the application against the Registrar of Electors for Sarawak and the Election Commission (EC) last Wednesday.

They were represented by their lawyers Clement Wong, George Lo and Simon Siah.

The suit followed the Dec 15 gazetting of Undi 18 or the lowering of the minimum age of voting from 21 to 18.

The Sarawak election meanwhile will use the electoral roll last updated on Nov 2.

Law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had said in the Dewan Rakyat that Undi 18 and automatic voter registration would be implemented before Dec 31.

This was in line with an order by the Kuching High Court on Sept 3.

The proposed amendments were approved in Parliament in July 2019. The gazette meanwhile stated that the king had appointed Dec 15 as the date on which the Undi 18 amendments would take effect.

The constitutional amendment was gazetted on Nov 25. The Sarawak state legislative assembly was however dissolved on Nov 3, before the amendment.

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