Civil society organisations demand early release of SOPs for S’wak polls

  KUCHING (Nov 24): A group of 17 civil society organisations (CSOs) has expressed concern that standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the upcoming Sarawak election have not been released yet. A memorandum on this matter was presented to Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh today. Continue reading

Organisations call on EC to implement absentee voting for S’wakians residing in Sabah, Peninsula

KUCHING (Nov 15): Civil society organisations (CSOs) in Sarawak are calling on the Election Commission (EC) to grant Absentee Voter status to Sarawakians residing in Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia and allow them to vote in advance before the coming state polls. Despite welcoming the EC’s decision to allow all overseas Sarawakians the right to vote via post without excluding those residing in the neighbouring regions of Singapore, Brunei, Kalimantan in Indonesia and South Thailand, the organisations lamented that the EC had refused to extend any form of absentee voting to the many Sarawakian voters currently residing in Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia. Continue reading

Early Termination of Sarawak Emergency; a deliberate and calculated attempt to deny youth votes.

The early termination of the Sarawak Emergency as announced by Istana Negara today (3rd Nov) means that our DUN is expected to be dissolved in the following day. We also expect the EC to announce a date for the state elections which should be within 60 days and this means anytime in November or by December 2021. Continue reading

RESPECT THE YOUTH VOTE! DON'T SUPRESS IT!

Image Source: BH Online Amidst speculations and reports by various news portals that Sarawak DUN will be dissolved this Friday and that polls will be held before the end of the year, ROSE calls on the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi Abang Zohari not to hurry into the state polls before the Emergency is over. As Emergency rules still apply until 2nd February 2022, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agung will have to end the Emergency prematurely to allow elections to be held this year. As this Emergency is only in force in Sarawak, the CM as head of the State Executive is responsible to advise the Agung via the TYT on the timing to end the Emergency to allow for state elections. Thus, it is not entirely true that he does not have power to decide on the time to have elections. Having an election before the end of this year will however mean denying about 665,543 Sarawakians the right to vote. A right which they secured via a well-argued High Court case and judgement which the Federal Government did not appeal. The names of these 665,543 voters (which represents an increase of 54.5 percent of the total number of Sarawak voters at GE14) will only be added to the electoral roll at the completion of the Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) process by SPR come January 2022. To deny them the right to vote now, when they are on the cusp of being registered, is to thus show contempt for the High Court’s decision and also the Federal Government’s desire to give more power to youth to participate in the nation’s development process. From an analysis of the pre-registration verification process currently being undertaken by SPR, details of which are displayed on their website, almost half of all Sarawak state constituencies will experience a more than 50 percent increase in voter numbers. Some suburban and growth areas will see up to a 95 percent increase in new voters. Among these constituencies are Tupong, Pantai Damai, Semariang, Batu Kawah, Senadin and Lambir. It is without a doubt that these are the areas in which young people will be voting for the first time and making their mark after the implementation of UNDI18 and the AVR by the end of the year. Holding the Sarawak elections next year will therefore allow more than 1.9 million qualified voters who are eligible to participate to decide on Sarawak’s future. It is therefore incumbent on the decision-makers including the Chief Minister to enable the voices of the young to be heard in the coming state elections. Despite the number of daily Covid 19 infections going down, the stats show that ICU occupancy is not going down nor are the daily hospital admissions. We thus also urge the Chief Minister to prioritise the health of voters. Instead of rushing to an election before the end of 2021, the state government needs to use this time to ask the Election Commission to put in place robust voting procedures that reduce the number of voters at any one time in a polling station. They can do so not merely by suggesting time slots for going out to vote but by increasing the number of polling days. Special voting arrangements like postal or advance voting should also be expanded to allow Sarawakian voters to vote out-of-region in West Malaysia or Sabah. This would save costs and reduce health risks for all involved if they were forced to travel home to vote instead. Strict measures must also be put in place by the Election Commission for the campaign period. To compensate for any reduction of face-to-face campaigning, televised and radio debates can be held. Equal air time slots can be given to all contesting political parties or candidates for each kawasan. There are a myriad of other ways to manage the risks associated with a Covid election and the Chief Minister can lead the way by showing the rest of Malaysia that Sarawak knows how to hold safe and inclusive elections.END.Statement of Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat (ROSE)21ST OCTOBER 2021

PPDM STATEMENT ON LATEST ENTER SARAWAK PROTOCOL

Image source: Unsplash Although we welcome the loosening of the entry restrictions into Sarawak issued by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) on Saturday 16th October 2021, we query the discriminatory nature of the ruling/SOP when it was amended on Sunday, 17 October 2021. The latest ruling/SOP exempts fully vaccinated Sarawakians, Sarawakians born in other states, non-Sarawakian spouses, federal civil servants, those with valid work permits and holders of Sarawak MM2H visa from applying for permission to enter the state at the Enter Sarawak website. All other Malaysians must first apply for permission to enter Sarawak at the Enter Sarawak website prior to even flying.   What really is the reason for this discriminatory requirement? Since no RTK nor PCR tests are required anymore (save for foreigners), does this latest discriminatory ruling assume that only Sarawakians, and the categories stated above (as compared with all other non-Sarawakians) travelling from other states are immune from Covid 19 infection?   This SOP also makes a mockery of SDMC’s expertise.  Surely with the many public health experts (we assume) advising them, the SDMC would have by now gathered enough scientific data and information about Covid 19 virus to inform the necessary public health and movement protocols put in place by SDMC. The virus does not discriminate infecting people on the basis of their place of birth/which state you are from.   Sadly, the discriminatory nature of this SOP also contradicts the state’s intention to attract domestic tourism in wanting to reopen the state’s economy. If any sector has been crushed by this COVID-19 pandemic, it is our tourism sector. Hence, why is SDMC being so heartless in denying our state’s tourism industry access to desperately needed business? Why make ourselves less competitive?   Surely #ReopeningSafely must also mean #ReopeningFairly. We call upon SDMC to immediately allow all fully vaccinated Malaysians to enter the state without having to apply.   These relaxed conditions of entry into Sarawak for only Sarawakians also suggests that the State Government expects Sarawakians to fly back to vote in the upcoming state elections. However, this does not mean that they - the Sarawakian-registered voters who reside in other states of Malaysia - are guaranteed to travel back due to travel costs and the need to take time off from work. Indeed, many have suffered too much financial setbacks these past two years to be able to do this.   Making non-Sarawakians apply to enter the State in the manner set out in the recently revised rule/SOP also suggests that SDMC can now act in an arbitrary manner in deciding who can and who cannot enter Sarawak. It also leaves us to speculate that this rule means that the SDMC can bar entries of election volunteers and helpers who are not Sarawakians but who are coming to Sarawak for legitimate political activity during an election. Will SDMC bar them but admit GPS-friendly helpers? How else does one read this latest discriminatory rule that is not in harmony with the science  on how COVID spreads?   Thus, instead of SDMC playing a professional role to manage and control the risks associated with the spread of the Covid 19 virus, it now is acting like some quasi-immigration authority guided by protocols that are not based on the science.   This is also the time to remind the State Government that to hold the Sarawak elections before the end of 2021 is to deny and suppress the votes of more than 600,000 new Sarawakian voters who will only get onto the electoral roll upon implementation of Undi 18 and AVR.   19th October 2021 Statement released by Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat (R.O.S.E.)     Media contact person: Ann Teo (President) 0168604998

ROSE -Malaysia Day Message

We celebrate Malaysia’s 58th year as a nation with sombre examination of the present times; difficult times that our people are going through in this pandemic but also with an expectation and hope that it will be a better tomorrow for all of us including those of us here in Sarawak. Firstly, we pay tribute to Malaysians in the frontlines and their families who have endured, persevered and sacrifice much to stem the virus the last 18 months only to be greeted with the emergence of variants that seek to ravage more lives. We pray for renewed strength, health and wisdom to be given to you so that you won’t give up. Needless to say the frequent changes of federal government has caused disruptions in policies which in turn has adversely impacted our economy and also the livelihoods of the ordinary man and women. We have also learnt that a declaration of an Emergency has come no where near to stop politicking. We thus welcome the historic occasion of the signing of an MOU for Transformation and Political Stability between the new Ismail Sabri government and Pakatan Harapan parties on the 13th Sept 2021. We are hopeful that this confidence and supply arrangement/understanding will enable government (and opposition) to focus on policies to re-build our country back to pre-pandemic levels but in the new normal. The MOU also consist of overdue administrative, institutional and parliamentary reforms such as Undi18 and AVR, anti-party hopping law and equal constituency development funding. The MOU can only be a good thing for all Malaysian voters if parties to it keeps to their understanding; with the Opposition still playing the role of check, balance and scrutiny of the government but at the same time not bringing down the present government through a numbers game. We have noted that GPS has welcomed the point on allocation of equal constituency development funds for Opposition members in the MOU and ROSE calls on the Sarawak state government to also adopt such policy and work out a formula that benefits all voters and not just voters with ADUNs in government. Of particular interest for us here in Sarawak is the clause to strengthen the efforts to implementation and realization of the terms of the Malaysia Agreement 1963. The frequent changes in government, changes in committees or councils and has left us sceptical and disillusioned on whether or not these talks on devolution of powers to the state is on the right track. All developments pertaining to the achievement of the terms of this MOU will be carefully watched and scrutinised by civil society including ROSE. We wish all peace-loving Malaysians a Selamat Hari Malaysia! Anak Sarawak, Anak Malaysia 16th Sept 2021   https://www.theborneopost.com/2021/09/17/rose-urges-gps-to-emulate-putrajaya-in-allocating-devt-funds-to-opposition/

SPR, Prioritize Sarawakians' Safety and Democratic Rights

    The Yang Di Pertuan Agung has last night proclaimed that a grave emergency exists in Sarawak and this proclaimation shall extend throughout the whole state from 2nd August 2021 to 2nd Feb 2022. As widely expected and with a stroke of a pen the Dewan Undangan Negeri is given another lease of life until Feb next year and the state elections has been postponed yet again. 1. This begs the question of whether we are entrenching the precedent of postponing elections by proclaimation of an emergency? If so, it certainly sets a bad precedent; it means that our political leaders  including our country’s important institution  ie. our election management body, SPR, cannot see or envisage conducting a safe election during the Covid pandemic era. 2. They have failed to use the period of the national emergency (7 months) to adapt and innovate towards ensuring safe elections for future disasters and crisis and we hope they do not waste another 6 months of this Sarawak emergency. They can use this 6 months to show that they are progressive, independent and world class by setting out their plans. After all, the current instability of the Federal government does mean they have to be prepared for a General Election anytime after the 1st August 2021. At such times of public health crisis and pandemic, we the rakyat needs a people-oriented, accountable, transparent and prepared government (be it national or state) and our rights to choose our government at regular intervals via safe and inclusive elections should be protected and guaranteed. UNLESS AND UNTIL the mechanisms for safe elections for Sarawak are put in place NOW, elections at any time now or 6 months down the road is going to be risky. The sooner we wake up to the fact that Covid 19 virus  is likely to become endemic and full vaccinations (2 doses) will not completely protect us from getting infected with the virus, the better. If does become endemic it will no longer be good enough for decision-makers to say “we will have our elections when we reach herd-immunity”. 3.Despite many lessons that it could have learnt from the 128 countries who conducted their elections between the period of 21.02.2020 to 21.07.2021  it has not revealed their plans for making elections safe and inclusive, in particular the measures and methods to counter travel and movement restrictions so as to encourage voter turnout and participation.  Specifically, we are referring to Special Voting Arrangements that enables voters to cast their vote without turning up in person at the Polling Station on Polling Day. They include postal voting, advance voting, mobile voting, proxy voting and even electronic voting. There are also many ways to enable safe campaigning to take place.   Statement by Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat. (ROSE) 31st July 2021        

EC should draw up plans for safe state polls, say Sarawak civil society groups

KUCHING: Civil society groups in Sarawak are calling on the Election Commission (EC) to come up with standard operating procedures (SOP) for the next state election to be held safely once the state legislative assembly is dissolved. This comes after the state government said it was leaving it to the wisdom of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to decide on an appropriate date for the dissolution in accordance with the King's powers during the Emergency period from Jan 11 to Aug 1. In a virtual audience with state leaders on Tuesday (May 25), Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah advised the state government to continue functioning as usual after the state legislature's expiry on June 6 with powers vested under the Emergency (Essential Orders) Ordinance 2021, in view of the worrying Covid-19 situation. Rise of Sarawak Efforts president Ann Teo said the King's advice was not unexpected as Sarawak's Covid-19 numbers were among the highest in the country. However, she said the EC should speed up its preparations for the state to face an election safely if the pandemic continues. "This can include planning and adopting robust absentee voting mechanisms to reduce voter movement, such as postal voting and advance voting. "Other things to make voting safer include holding campaigns online, with equal time to be given to each political party to speak on state or national television and radio," she said on Wednesday (May 26). Teo also expressed concern over the concentration of power in the executive during the Emergency as the state legislature's sittings were suspended. "If the present government continues to be in power until such a time as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong says that the state assembly is dissolved, we are looking at an extended term of government without accountability as there is no legislative sitting," she said. Simon Siah from Lawyer Kamek for Change concurred that the EC must come up with extensive SOP for the election, such as no house-to-house campaigning or public ceramah, putting in place postal voting for Sarawakians staying in Peninsular Malaysia or Sabah, and staggering voting hours. "In my opinion, the democratic process must continue with proper SOP put in place. "This has been done in other countries such as Singapore, the United States and Britain," he said. Siah also cautioned that prolonging the Emergency would give the ruling coalition "unfettered powers" over the state. "We are currently unable to project what the situation will be in the next few months or even years. "The Emergency can be extended using the convenient reason that cases are still high," he said, adding that more robust measures were needed to counter the spread of Covid-19. Continue reading

Hak Mengundi Rakyat Malaysia Berusia 18 tahun; Umpama Rompakan di Siang Hari

Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat (R.O.S.E) menolak sekeras-kerasnya keputusan SPR yang menangguhkan pelaksanaan Undi 18 dan daftar pengundi automatik (AVR) kepada September 2022. Polisi tersebut seharusnya dilaksanakan pada Julai 2021. Continue reading

Pendaftaran pengundi 18 tahun secara automatik jadi atau tidak ?

Pendaftaran Pengundi 18 Tahun Secara Automatik Jadi atau Tidak ? PUTRAJAYA: Kepemimpinan Pa­katan Harapan (PH) terlalu tergesa-gesa membuat keputusan mela­yakkan anak muda berusia 18 tahun secara auto­matik menjadi pengundi ketika meminda perundangan tertinggi negara sebelum ini.\ Continue reading