Having a conventional election this year would be disastrous, says Dr Yii 

Dr Kelvin Yii

By S. Harrish

THE Election Commission (EC) has been urged to expedite electoral reforms to ensure a safer election process and implement it even before the upcoming Sarawak state elections.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said failure to do so would mean EC had failed to prioritise the safety and protection of the people during the Covid-19 pandemic and also to remove any obstacle for people to come out to vote.

“The EC has not only failed to implement Undi18 and automatic registration at the promised timeframe, but also failed to implement necessary reforms to ensure a safer “pandemic voting process”,” he said in a statement today.

“This is in view of the Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi) Abang Johari Abang Openg’s intention to seek audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to discuss the timing of dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly, which is due to automatically dissolve on June 6.

“I have been consistent with the stand that we should not be having an election during this period and priority should be given to control the pandemic and uplift the economy.

“Having a conventional general election this year would be disastrous.”

Dr Yii said that while Sarawak had set a target to vaccinate 80% of the population by August, he doubted it due to the low rate of registration and low vaccine supply.

“Either way, we should not be looking at an election until most of the population is immunised, and the required electoral reforms implemented to give some form of protection during the voting process especially for the high-risk groups.”

He said the EC had more than a year to prepare since the start of the pandemic but has failed to take proactive steps and reforms.

Dr Yii added that EC should have looked into certain adjustments and procedural reforms, especially in implementing the necessary safety SOPs, including absentee voting or extending postal voting to either vulnerable populations or those working or studying outside their home states, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Absentee or postal voting will make it easier for voters residing in other states to vote, instead of them having to return home and causing a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, as what happened in Sabah.

“Such reforms are also important to encourage more voter participation including young people, especially for elections held in Sabah and Sarawak.”

It is estimated that up to 20% of eligible Sabahan and Sarawakian voters are living and working in Peninsular Malaysia and a good number of citizens from the peninsula are doing likewise in Sabah and Sarawak.