BY UMSU PRESS
On the 3rd November 2021, Yang di-Pertuan Agong gave consent to end the Emergency in Sarawak which means the Sarawak Legislative Assembly will dissolve automatically and the Sarawak state election will be held within 60 days by the Election Commission.
Initially, the date of emergency to be ended is 6 months after August 2nd which is February 2nd. So, the emergency has been lifted three months earlier. This decision is Agong’s prerogative which was exercised after the meeting with Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, said by the palace official.
However, YdPA had conveyed his concern on the risk of causing the new pandemic wave in Sarawak. Notwithstanding the concern, the decision was made to fulfil democratic requirements and return the power to the people to deliver a new mandate for a new government, said Azuan, the comptroller of the Royal Household.
How about Undi18?
Unfortunately, eighteen-year-old Malaysians will only be allowed to vote after Dec 31 2021, when Undi 18 starts to be implemented. So, eighteen-year-old Sarawakians will not be able to exercise their right yet in this coming Sarawak state election. Initially, these youngsters are looking forward to voting in this election as the emergency was expected to be lifted on 2nd Feb 2022 where Undi 18 has already started implementing.
Therefore, as Undi18 Sarawak co-coordinator Soon Wei Xen said, 125,000 to 135,000 Sarawakian youths will be affected, which means the final result of the coming state election will not represent everyone’s will.
Is it safe yet?
Associate Professor Dr Malina Osman, Universiti Putra Malaysia epidemiologist and biostatistician said the current percentage of fully vaccinated adults in Sarawak would contribute to a smoother election. The current percentage of fully vaccinated adults is more than 70 per cent.
“In my opinion, the current situation would be different from the Sabah election last year. Now a significant number of adults in Sarawak have been fully vaccinated. Also, in Sarawak booster doses have been administered to high-risk groups.”
She stressed that barring social gatherings throughout the election period, as enforced in Melaka, should be able to prevent any outbreak if everyone is complying with the standard operating procedures.
"With available protocols and specific SOP by the National Security Council and Health Ministry, I think measures to prevent new infections or clusters are adequate."
Also, Chairman of Bersih 2.0, Thomas Fann also urged for the Election Commission to enable Sarawakian voters in Peninsular Malaysia to cast their vote without travelling back to Sarawak to physically cast their vote.
“We also call on the Election Commission to allow Sarawakians living in the peninsular to vote without flying back to their constituencies. This can be done by categorising them as absentee voters and allowed to vote in advance at mass voting centres, at least one in each state in the peninsula.”
It is a shame that the 18-year-olds are unable to vote yet and the next level of democracy will not be able to be achieved for the next 5 years in Sarawak. We urge the Election Commission to speed up any necessary process and actions to enable these youngsters to exercise their legal rights to vote. We also foresee that every Sarawakian can do their vote and comply with the SOPs as to do their job keeping the balance between public health and democracy.
Written by Secretariat of Current Affairs 2021
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