Find a way for these East M’sians to vote, EC told
April 22, 2013
MoCS wants the EC to enable Sabahans and Sarawakians 'stranded' in the peninsula to be able to vote on May 5.
SIBU: The Election Commission (EC) has been told to find a way to enable East Malaysians studying, working or residing in Peninsular Malaysia to vote.
There are many Sarawakians and Sabahans who are ‘stranded’ in the peninsula on May 5. They will not be able to vote because they could not afford to return home.
Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) leader Francis Paul Siah felt that it was the EC’s responsibility to devise a mechanism to resolve this long-standing issue.
“EC and many other groups have been encouraging Malaysian citizens to register as voters. What is the point of being a registered voter when you have no opportunity to vote?” he told a press conference in Sibu today.
Since MoCS launched its ‘Bring home a voter’ programme on March 28, it has received overwhelming response.
“To be honest, it was more than we could handle. By April 11, we have received a total of 670 applications for airfare sponsorship from voters and we were forced to close application that day. But they keep coming and up till today, there are more than 900.” Siah revealed.
The MoCS leaders said that his movement has to disappoint many applicants because of its limited resources.
“We are now seeking the help of political parties to sponsor the air tickets of these voters. Most of them are students, young working adults and pensioners. The students are mainly first-time voters,” Siah said.
“Civil society groups like MoCS can only do as much. Ultimately, it falls on the EC to find a way to enable these voters from Sabah and Sarawak who number in the thousands to vote.
“Geographically, there is enough reason for the EC to act. Malaysia is not a tiny nation. We are separated by the South China Sea”.
Siah suggested that EC work out a plan for East Malaysians to vote in the commission’s offices throughout the peninsula. They should be allowed to do so provided they register three to six months before an election.
He also urged political parties to prioritise sending these voters home to vote.
“What is the point of budgeting so much for posters, pamphlets and billboards? Posters and billboards do not vote. People vote. So it makes sense to assist our fellow citizens to come home and vote,” added Siah.