KUCHING, Sept 2 — The Election Commission (EC) is urged to consider virtual voting in the 12th Sarawak State Election for the safety of voters and others during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president,, who is also the state assemblyman for Asajaya, said the EC, however, also needed to ensure that the virtual voting would really be effective before implementing it.
“To me, we are now in the digital era and surely the people already know which party they want to vote for in this coming state election,” he said via a video recording on his Facebook page today.
Abdul Karim, who is also Sarawak Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, said another method that could be considered was extending the voting period to one month as had been done before in the 1970’s.
“What’s important is ensuring that the election process and voting be carried out in a more controlled manner to curb the spread of COVID-19,” he added.
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, had in a Federal Government gazette dated July 30, proclaimed a period of emergency in Sarawak from Aug 2 to Feb 2 next year, thus suspending the state election during this period.
The King made the emergency proclamation following the rising cases of COVID-19 which threatened the people’s safety and health, and public order.
However, Section 2(2) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) (Sarawak) Ordinance 2021 imposed following the emergency proclamation in Sarawak, states that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong could terminate the emergency proclamation earlier after discussing the matter with the Yang Dipertua Negeri Sarawak.
The Sarawak State Legislative Assembly should have been dissolved last June 7, according to Clause (3), Article 21 of the Sarawak State Constitution to enable the state election to be held, but it has no power to do so, according to paragraph 15(1)(a) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 which suspended the dissolution of the State Assembly.