Members attending Aliran’s 45th annual general meeting, held virtually this morning, urged the Election Commission to allow all Sarawakians working or living outside the state to cast their ballots by post for the 18 December state election.
The resolution, passed unanimously, reads:
This annual general meeting, in the interest of parliamentary democracy and in keeping with the principle of free and fair elections, calls upon the Election Commission to extend postal voting to all Sarawakians working or domiciled outside Sarawak, so that no voter is denied and deprived the right to vote on economic grounds.
The fare to and from Sarawak could be prohibitive because of the festive season and holidays. Many will not be able to spend so much just to put an X on the ballot paper.
The Election Commission has a duty to facilitate the voting process so that no one is disenfranchised.
In this pandemic situation, postal balloting would also be a more sensible and viable alternative. As the Election Commission has an office in every state, these offices outside Sarawak could be used as polling stations to allow Sarawakians to cast their ballots.
The Aliran annual meeting saw its highest turnout in recent years. The problem of corruption and lack of inclusiveness featured prominently in discussions among members. Other serious concerns highlighted included the stoking of ethno-religious sentiment, mounting government debt, rising poverty levels and political defections (‘party-hopping’).
Confidence in the country’s future appears to be waning and many parents whose children are studying abroad are telling them not to return home after their studies.
“But it is important not to lose hope,” Aliran president Anil Netto said in his address to members. “We must never doubt the ability of even small groups to bring about change.”
Groups like Aliran can play an important role in reigniting hope and spurring renewal and reforms. “We have a critical role to play in promoting a more inclusive, democratic and sustainable future by raising public awareness and consciousness.”
Members re-elected Anil as president, Dr Azmil Tayeb as honorary secretary, Dr Prema Devaraj as honorary assistant secretary and Henry Loh as honorary treasurer.
Also re-elected to the executive committee were Dr Francis Loh, Dr Mustafa K Anuar, Andrew Wong, Prof Zaharom Nain, K Haridas, Mary Magdaline Pereira, Dr Khoo Ying Hooi, Dr Christopher Chong and Dineskumar Ragu.
New faces elected to the committee were Sukeshini Nair and Zikri Rahman.
David Yeoh was elected the honorary auditor.Dr Azmil Tayeb
27 November 2021