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Over A Quarter Of Sarawak's Adults Not Registered To Vote

Over A Quarter Of Sarawak's Adults Not Registered To Vote, Malaysian Election Commission Admits

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

We would like to draw your attention to a hidden scandal, following an astonishing admission by the Malaysian Election Commission on political rights in Sarawak, East Malaysia.

According to new figures released by the Election Commission, 404'996 eligible adults in Sarawak are not registered as voters. This is 28% of the 1,431,672 Sarawakians aged 21 years and above out of the state's population of 2,471,140.

The number of unregistered voters is higher than the number of voters who retained Sarawak Chief Minister in power in the 2011 state election! On 16 April 2011, Barisan Nasional was returned to power in Sarawak with 372,379 votes (which earned BN 55 seats) compared to the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat's 277,329 votes (which won them 15 seats).

The voter registration process in Sarawak is unnecessarily slow and complicated, and particularly the opposition parties are deliberately being obstructed when trying to register their voters. There has been a shortage of voter registration forms for years, and repeatedly the Election Commission has refused voter registrations submitted by the opposition parties.

A strict control over the voting process and gerrymandering have been key factors for Malaysia's ruling Barisan Nasional Coalition to remain in power during five decades since the formation of the country in 1963.

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Staggering 404,996 Sarawakians have not registered as voters

KUCHING: The Election Commission (EC) is calling on those who have turned 21 to register as voters.

Eligible voters can cast their votes in the coming 13th general election if it is held after August provided they register with EC by June 30. According to the EC statistics, there are 1,431,672 Sarawakians aged 21 years and above out of the state’s population of 2,471,140.

But a staggering 404,996 Sarawakians have not registered as voters despite being of eligible age.

One of them is 31-year-old Matt Yio who said: “The country’s political scene does not encourage many to vote. It is predictable and boring. Politicians make plenty of promises prior to elections, but most remain promises. They act out of self-! interest with voting a routine for a supposedly democratic country.”

Those who have registered see it from a different perspective like Anwar Zapari, 26 who said: “Citizens should do something rather than just complain. I think it unlikely the political status quo will change much other than a reduction in the government’s majority. But I am hopeful for change as without a challenge, one tends to be complacent.”

He had voted twice during the 2008 parliamentary election and during last year’s state election.

Steven Lai registered to vote last year. The 29-year-old Kuching native has been staying in Singapore for the last decade.

“It took me a while to finally realise that as a Malaysian, I have the responsibility to vote for my country’s future. I want a government that can move Malaysia forward, not backward. I hope the people will be treated equally, especially in education and employment! opportunities. I also hope for better security and safety for fellow Malaysians,” he said.

Lai hoped to vote in the coming election if he could get leave to return.

Meanwhile, recently registered voter Kimberly Chee, 23, said she was looking forward to casting her vote though unsure if her registration would be processed in time.

“I registered two months ago upon encouragement from my mother. Honestly speaking, I get my political updates from my mother who reads about the going-ons and discusses them with my sister and me. I hope to see positive change and improvement in our state and country as a whole,” she said.

Her friend Carol Chin, 23, said she registered earlier this year after being encouraged by family members and friends.

“I want to play a part in deciding the future of our country. I am ready to vote for a better Malaysia,” she said.

When informed of the June 30 deadl! ine, Chin said youths should register with EC quickly.

&ldqu! o;They should think of the future and the change they could bring via their votes. They must grab the opportunity which is their rights as citizens,” she said.

Those wishing to register can do so at any post office or at the EC office at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar. In addition, they can also register through any registered political party or logon the EC official website at for more information.


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