EC must provide more avenues for Johorians overseas to vote - Maria Chin

11 Feb 2022 07:43pm
Maria Chin Abdullah - Facebook Pic
Maria Chin Abdullah - Facebook Pic

SHAH ALAM - Petaling Jaya Utara MP Maria Chin Abdullah has urged the Election Commission (EC) to provide more avenues for the people of Johor living overseas to exercise their voting rights in the state election.

Maria who is also former Bersih 2.0 chairman said given the current situation, the commission has to be practical, reasonable and accommodative towards all eligible voters.

She said to hold a state election amid the surge of the Omicron variant will be challenging for the EC and the voters.

The process, she said would require manpower of the Immigration Department, the police and health officers to be stretched to its limit besides the additional resources that will be used as Malaysians will travel across the border either by land, air or water in a short period to cast their vote, she added.

“As Johor is preparing for the state election, the EC should take cognisance that being a border state, thousands of Johorians cross the Straits of Johor to Singapore daily for work, education, residence and other businesses.

“This would inevitably increase physical interaction and exposure between both travellers and authorities, a risk that we want to mitigate at this time of Covid-19.

“Furthermore, the quarantine requirement for overseas travellers may deter many voters from returning as they may need to take leave at least a week off or even more just to comply with such standard operating procedure (SOP),” she said in a statement on Friday.

Therefore, she said it was highly recommended for the EC to encourage postal voting as an alternative for voters to exercise their right and civic duty, by setting up at least five vote collection centres outside of Malaysia for overseas voters to cast their votes.

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She suggested that Johorians overseas cast their votes in a ballot box in advance and later return via diplomatic bags to their respective polling stations in Johor.

“There will be thousands of Johorians who will benefit from this as they will still be able to exercise their civic voting duty while being across the Causeway,” she said.

She also suggested for the EC to allow small gatherings of not more than 30 people at one time for the candidates to meet the people in their constituency with the consent from the National Security Council (MKN) and strict SOPs in place.

She said she strongly believed that all the candidates and parties contesting in the Johor state election should be given equal media access and coverage throughout the campaign period for 24 hours.

“There must not be any restriction or selective preference on who could use public-funded media channels such as television, radio, newspapers and official websites. Prime media time must be equally accessible to all candidates.

“These platforms should be fully utilised to educate the general masses about this whole democratic process, thus minimising the need for physical gatherings,” she said.

Maria also urged all eligible citizens outside of Malaysia to promptly register as postal voters for the state election.