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亚马逊云账《号》(www.2km.me)_Thousands of Sarawak folk to miss voting due to EC\u2019s lack of action, says Upko president

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Upko president Wilfred Madius Tangau has demanded that absentee voting rights be introduced before the 15th general elections so that those from Sarawak and Sabah who are based outside of their respective states will not have to make a choice between their vote or spending money to fly home to vote. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 6, 2021.

THOUSANDS of Sarawak folk working in other parts of Malaysia will most probably miss out on the state elections later this month due to the Election Commission’s lack of planning, Wilfred Madius Tangau said today. The Upko president said that apart from the high cost of flying home to vote, there was also an issue of lack of absentee voting facilities for the polls in other parts of the country. He questioned the EC for the lack of action over the last 21 months. “So why has the EC been sleeping for the past 21 months? When will they wake up?” he asked. “When we demanded absentee voting for the Sabah state elections last September, the EC said it was not ready. “Will it be ready for GE15? Or should folk in Sarawak and Sabah just expect their diasporic votes to be forever suppressed?” He said that during the Indonesian elections, the Indonesian voters who worked in Malaysia could queue up and vote in the Indonesian embassy. “Why can’t we have advance voting centres in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Penang and Kota Kinabalu where Sarawakian diasporas are mostly domiciled, so that our brothers and sisters in Sarawak can just queue up and vote a few days in advance before December 18?” He demanded that absentee voting rights be introduced before the 15th general elections so that those from Sarawak and Sabah who are based outside of their respective states will not have to make a choice between their vote or spending money to fly home to vote. “According to an estimate, at least 250,000 out of 1,252,014 voters in Sarawak  voters are living in the peninsula, Sabah and Labuan,” he said in a statement. “That means one in every five voters from Sarawak is expected to fly home before December 18 to vote – just a week before Christmas – or give up their right to decide their home region’s future for the next five years. “Can you imagine the size of 250,000 voters? If they are shipped by an Airbus A320 with 160 passengers on board, that will take 1,560 flights one way,” he added. He said even if airlines operated 30 flights a day at full capacity from Kuala Lumpur to major cities in Sarawak, it will take 52 days, or 7.5 weeks, to fly Sarawak folks back to the state. “Why does this not concern the chairman of the EC and the Sarawak state government? Because they know most Sarawak folk cannot afford to go home,” he said. Madius also touched on the cost of airfares –around RM1,200 –  which is the minimum wage. “If RM1,200 is multiplied by 250,000 voters, that’s RM300 million,” he said. “If you are from Kabong, Kerian, Pelagus, Telang Usan or Bakelalan but are now working or studying in Kuala Lumpur, will you go home to vote? “If you have already planned your home trip for Christmas or New Year, will  you have enough money to buy another ticket? Also, will your boss or university allow you to be away for two weeks?” he added. He questioned if Sarawak folk who are based outside of the state should be deprived of their rights to vote simply because they cannot afford to travel home. He said travelling during the pandemic also increases the risk of infection.

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