Fear of young voters behind GPS’ push for early polls?

Younger voters are more inclined towards the opposition, says Dr Awang Azman. – The Star’s file pix

GABUNGAN Parti Sarawak (GPS) wants the 12th Sarawak election to be held by June so that the ruling coalition doesn’t have to face disenfranchised young voters at the ballot box, an academic says.

Political analyst Associate Professor Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the later the election is held, the more likely those aged between 18  and 21 would be allowed to vote following the amendents to electoral laws. This would disadvantaged GPS, he added.

Prior to this, only those 21 years and above are eligible to vote, but the laws were amended in 2019 to allow those 18 and above to vote. The Elections Commission is expected to roll out the reduced voting age rule latest by July this year.

“If GPS waits until the emergency is lifted in August, they are worried that younger voters (18 years old) will be able to vote,” he said when contacted.

“Besides, younger voters seem to be more inclined towards Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) and Pakatan Harapan, which is why PRS president Tan Sri James Masing had insisted that the state poll be held by June, most likely after Hari Gawai.

“With the current pandemic and issues such as limited job opportunities in Sarawak and more and more graduates facing unemployment, there might be a swing vote against the GPS,” he added.

Apart from that, Prof Awang Azman also said that during the 14th General Election, PRS lost Julau, Selangau and Lubok Antu to the opposition.

“So, in the next Sarawak election, PRS is worried that all the state seats under the three parliamentary seats will be affected too. Hence, to minimise the damage (vote swing), Masing would prefer to have a state poll as soon as possible,” he added.

Last week, Masing, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister said the Sarawak State cabinet members plan to appeal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to lift the emergency order in Sarawak if the Covid-19 situation in the state can be brought to a manageable level.

He said if the appeal is favourably considered, it would pave the way for the 12th State Election to be held as the term for the current State Legislative Assembly ends in June.

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