Undi18: Delay Sarawak state polls until next year as Covid-19 still looms large

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In a statement, the movement said that the country is still adapting to the Covid-19 recovery plan and the extension of Sarawak’s state Emergency, coupled with the delayed implementation of Undi18, shows that the state is not ready for an election.  — Picture by Choo Choy May
In a statement, the movement said that the country is still adapting to the Covid-19 recovery plan and the extension of Sarawak’s state Emergency, coupled with the delayed implementation of Undi18, shows that the state is not ready for an election. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — Youth movement Undi18 is urging the federal government to not hold the Sarawak state elections this year, following Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah’s royal assent to end the Emergency proclaimed in the state today.

In a statement, the movement said that the country is still adapting to the Covid-19 recovery plan and the extension of Sarawak’s state Emergency, coupled with the delayed implementation of Undi18, shows that the state is not ready for an election.

“Malaysia is currently at the Covid-19 recovery stage. However, the pandemic is far from over. Sarawak is still facing an average of 500 new cases daily and more than 10 fatalities daily.

“While we strongly support the democratic process, the Federal Constitution provides some temporary measures in times of emergency to put elections on hold,” they said.

Undi18 added that the Election Commission (EC) has still not come up with alternative plans to ensure safe campaigning, evident from the statement made by de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in Parliament.

Wan Junaidi stated that the EC has yet to announce the standard operating procedure (SOP) from the upcoming Melaka state election.

The movement added that the decision to hold a state election before the implementation of Undi18 is also one that ignores the voting rights of youths in Sarawak.

For context, the Kuching High Court had on September 3 compelled the federal government to implement the lower voting age and automatic voter registration by December 31 this year.

“The urgency of the decision is to ensure that Sarawakian youth especially will be eligible to vote in the coming state election.

“Dissolving the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly this year will disenfranchise 125,000 to 135,000 Sarawakian youth voters,” they said.

Earlier today, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong consented to ending the state Emergency in Sarawak.

Acting Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Azuan Effendy Zairakithnaini said the Agong made the decision following an audience with both Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Azizan Harun.

The end of the Emergency would require Sarawak to hold a state election within 60 days as the term of the legislative assembly there expired in June.

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