The Election Commission has announced that the Sarawak election will take place on 18 December 2021, with nomination day on 6 December 2021 and early voting on 14 December.
Exorbitant flight prices
The CSO Platform for Reform (Sarawak chapter) is shocked at the drastic spike in flight ticket prices, whether it is from the peninsula to Sarawak, or Sabah to Sarawak.
Airline companies should consider and understand the burden and difficulties faced by Sarawakians who want to return to their home state for the state election. The exorbitant ticket prices will make it almost impossible for Sarawakians to travel back to Sarawak to cast their votes.
Additionally, the Election Commission has not made any provisions for Sarawakians residing out of state in other parts of West Malaysia or Sabah to vote as absentee voters despite numerous calls by civil society and political parties. No timelines were also given despite the Election Commission itself having set up a committee in 2019 to look into the reform of absentee voting.
Before this, there are already issues on flight delays, retiming and cancellations that have inconvenienced passengers who have purchased tickets for personal or business matters. It incurs a loss of time and money, especially for Sarawakians who might be facing financial difficulties.
As part of a healthy and robust democracy, election monitors have been allowed to monitor the entire election proces, and to ensure that the election candidates, political parties or the public at large adhere to the Election Offences Act 1954.
Through its statement sighted on the Election Commission website, one of the eligibility requirements that the commission stated is that “only individuals residing in Sarawak” are eligible to apply as election observers. This is unprecedented and undemocratic to limit the election observers to only individuals with a Sarawak residential address to apply as “election observers” under the Election Commission.
In this respect, for and on behalf of the people of Sarawak,
- We urge airline companies to justify and clarify to members of the public, especially
Sarawakians, the drastic spike in ticket prices in light of the state election
- We call on the federal government, particularly Wee Ka Siong, as the Transport Minister, to intervene in keeping with the spirit of “keluarga Malaysia”. The Sarawak Disaster Management Control also needs to approve more flights to Sarawak. As a responsible family, the state and federal government should urge airline companies to be more responsible and not to punish citizens who want to exercise their right to vote
- We call on the Election Commission to immediately allow observers from Sabah and peninsular Malaysia to apply and participate actively in the election monitoring, in accordance with Covid safety measures, in the upcoming Sarawak state election to ensure an election that is clean, free and fair
The right to vote is a constitutional and basic right of every citizen, and this time around, it feels as though our rights are being undermined.
This statement is issued by CSO Platform for Reform (Sarawak) and endorsed by:
- Sadia Rajang
- Undi Sarawak
- Save Rivers
- Terabai Kenyalang Heritage Association of Sarawak (TKHAS)
- Dayak Think Tank Association of Sarawak (DTTAS)
- Persatuan Anak Istimewa Sarawak (Perais)
- Keep Green Movement (KGM) – People. Associate. Development. Education for Penan
- Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat (Rose)
- Bersih Sarawak
- Purplelily Social Association Kuching
- Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim) Sarawak
- Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia, Sarawak
- Sarawak Association for People Aspirations (Sapa)
- Sarawak AIDS Concern Society (SACS)
The CSO Platform for Reform (Sarawak chapter) is part of the CSO Platform for Reform, a coalition of 90 NGOs based in Malaysia, focusing on institutional reforms.