Allow postal voting for next Sabah elections

GLOBAL Bersih is urging the Election Commission (EC) to give Sabahan voters living outside the state the option of postal voting for the next snap election to elect members of the Sabah Legislative Assembly, which will take place 60 days from the date of dissolution. 

This option should be provided to the many Sabahan voters living in other states in Malaysia, as well as to those residing outside Malaysia, including in neighboring Asean countries, such as Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia, as well as in Southern Thailand. 

The EC has an important responsibility to ensure that all Malaysians can, in practise, exercise their constitutional right to vote. Providing the option of postal voting will help address several practical barriers preventing many Sabahan voters residing outside Sabah today from exercising their right to vote. 

Firstly, given that the country is still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, obliging Sabahans to travel back to their state to cast their ballot papers will present a health risk for those travelling, as well as for those with whom they will come into contact. This will counter efforts by the health authorities to contain the pandemic by raising the risk of creating new clusters of infected individuals. 

Secondly, the cost of travel to and back from Sabah represents a financial burden, which will be particularly heavy for those who have experienced loss of income during the movement control order (MCO) period. 

Global Bersih would also like to bring the EC’s attention to the temporary suspension of the international postal delivery service that was announced by Pos Malaysia on July 31.

and urge the commission to ensure that the system put in place for Sabahan voters residing outside the state is workable and takes into account the problems in the postal system. 

We have previously submitted electoral reform proposals along these lines to the EC, including recommendations to allow postal voting for Malaysians residing outside their constituencies and living overseas, including in Asean countries. It will continue to play its part in encouraging overseas Malaysians to participate in the electoral process, including for the next election in Sabah, and urges the EC to facilitate this by expediting the reform efforts to improve the overseas voting registration system. 

Global Bersih would also like to encourage Malaysians to sign an online petition urging the EC to allow postal voting for Sabahans living in Sarawak and the peninsula, which was endorsed by Bersih 2.0. – August 5, 2020.

* Global Bersih is an international civil society body based in Geneva, Switzerland that is an endorsing organisation of Bersih 2.0.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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