EC should use Emergency period to come up with reforms, says group

KUCHING: The Election Commission (EC) should use the Emergency period to come up with reforms that can be implemented for the Sarawak state election once the Emergency is lifted, says a Sarawak-based civil society organisation.

Rise of Sarawak Efforts (ROSE) said this included fine-tuning postal and advanced voting methods to allow better participation by Sarawakian voters living, working or studying outside the state.

"The EC should also carry out intentional and effective public education of how new and reformed measures operate to enable voters to vote safely.

"This will greatly increase public trust in the new systems and boost voter participation in the coming state election while protecting the public from health risks," ROSE president Ann Teo said in a statement on Thursday (Jan 14).

She said it is important for voting reforms to be put in place now as the next state election is due by Aug 5, while the Emergency period will last until Aug 1, unless it is lifted earlier.

Under the state constitution, an election must be held within 60 days from the dissolution of the state legislative assembly. The legislature's current term ends on June 6.

Teo noted that nomination and campaigning would have to be allowed during the Emergency period for the state election to be held before Aug 5.

"This is not impossible if in-person or physical campaigning is limited and campaigns are conducted digitally, as well as through radio and television, with equal air time given to leaders of all contesting parties," she said.

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