KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Bersih 2.0 is calling for the Election Commission (EC) to consider allowing Sabahans working in Sarawak and the peninsula to cast postal votes in the coming state election.
The group said an online petition had been started to collect signatures from the public to be addressed to the commission.
It noted that besides the serious threat and risk still posed to public health by Covid-19, current flight prices were expensive and not all eligible voters from Sabah could afford the ticket home to cast their ballots.
“We implore the EC to consider based on these reasons; the pandemic adds extra burden for Sabah voters to carry out their voting duties due to loss of income, increase of transportation costs and health risks, which will deter them from going home to vote.
“Too many Sabahans, especially the youth, have left their hometowns to explore outside opportunities for employment and education.
“The right to vote empowers the people to determine the fate of our own state, and is therefore needed to see a promised democracy, ” the group said in a statement yesterday.
Sabah Bersih 2.0 added that even with the absence of the pandemic, the cost and difficulties in returning to vote in Sabah, especially those who do not have the financial means and failure to get leave from work, would see many forgo their right to vote.
The group noted that back in 2012, the Parliamentary Select Committee led by Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili recommended postal voting for Sabahans, Sarawakians and those from the peninsula who were away from their own region, but it was not implemented after two general elections.
“While Malaysians residing overseas had been able to use postal votes since 2018 even if they were oceans away from home, Sabahans cannot do so – as if the South China Sea is wider than the Pacific Ocean.
“We therefore invite members of the Sabah public to sign the petition addressed to the EC at https://bit.ly/UndiPos4Sabah, ” it added.
The online petition via change.org urges the EC to initiate postal voting for Sabahans outside the state during the Sabah snap election, which must be called in 60 days after the state assembly was dissolved on Thursday.
As of 1.45pm yesterday, more than 1,000 online signatures have been collected.