EC targets 70% voter turnout in Sarawak polls

The target can be achieved despite the current northeast monsoon which brings heavy rain between November and February, says EC chairman

by ASILA JALIL / pic by TMR FILE

THE Election Commission Malaysia (EC) targets 70% voter turnout for the 12th Sarawak state election that will be held on Dec 18.

EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh (picture) said the target can be achieved despite the current northeast monsoon which brings heavy rain between November and February.

“We know the Sarawak citizens will fulfil their responsibilities,” he said during a media briefing yesterday when asked if the voter turnout target will materialise.

During the 15th Melaka state election that was held last month, overall voter turnout of 65.9% was recorded, lower than the previous elections held in the past year.

According to previous data by the EC, voter turnout in Sabah state election in September last year was 66.6%.

Abdul Ghani said a total of 349 individuals have been named to contest in the Sarawak state election. In total, 10 political parties have taken part in the state polls, along with 30 independent candidates.

Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) has fielded 82 candidates for the polls, followed by Parti Bumi Kenyalang (73), Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) (70), Parti Keadilan Rakyat (28), Democratic Action Party (26), Parti Aspirasi Rakyat Sarawak (15), Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (11), Parti Amanah Negara (8), Parti Sedar Rakyat Sarawak (5), PAS (1) and independent (30).

Abdul Ghani said two nomination papers were rejected during the nomination process yesterday, namely at the Jemoreng state seat from an individual representing Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) and the Senadin state seat from an independent candidate.

All 82 state seats in Sarawak will see multi-cornered fights with one of the seats having eight contenders.

Four state seats will have two-cornered fights, 13 seats will witness three-cornered fights, 33 state constituencies will have four-cornered fights, while 24 seats will have five candidates and the remaining seven state seats will have six contenders for each seat.

“The campaigning period will begin after the declaration of the state election by the managing officer and it will run until 11.59pm, Dec 17, 2021.

“The EC has formed 155 election committee teams to monitor every candidate’s activities during the campaign period,” said Abdul Ghani.

Election materials that are allowed during the campaign such as advertisements, posters, stickers and letters must contain the names and address of the publisher except for flags, posters with a party’s symbol, as well as photos of party leaders or contesting candidates.

Election materials that contain words that promote racial sentiments and touch on sensitive matters such as religion or matters that incite hostility are not allowed in the campaigns, he said.

He added that the special standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the state election has received approval from the Ministry of Health on Sunday.

“The special SOPs will be strictly implemented in all election activities and processes such as during the ballot paper printing and review, ballot box review, campaign period, polling day and tallying of votes,” added Abdul Ghani.

Previously, the EC allowed physical ceramah (talk) in 64 state seats that were identified as having poor 4G coverage.

Attendance for the talks is capped at 50% capacity or a maximum of 150 people at one time while the session for each ceramah is restricted to two hours and must end by 10pm.

Attendees of the physical ceramah must be fully vaccinated and conduct tests using RTK-Ag before being permitted to attend the event.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Abang Openg will face a four-cornered fight for the Gedong seat.

The president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, parked under GPS’ ticket, will contest against Mohamad Sofian Fariz Sharbini from PSB, Kamal Bujang (Amanah) and Tomson Ango of PBK.

The Sarawak polls will be the third state election in the pandemic after Sabah in September last year and Melaka last month. Early voting day is on Dec 14.