Postal Voting for Sabahans residing in Sarawak and West Malaysia is a Must(2 August 2020)

Bersih 2.0 (Sabah) refers to the announcement of dissolution of the 15th Sabah State Assembly by the Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, to pave way for the 16th State Election.

The political upheaval on 29 July 2020 rocked by the alleged buying of state assembly persons, is seen to have put the state government in a precarious position. The CM then saw it fit to advise the TYT for a dissolution.

On 30 July 2020, the Election Commission (EC) issued a statement on confirming they have been officially notified by the Sabah State Legislative Assembly regarding the dissolution of the 15th state assembly, according to EC secretary, Ikmalrudin Ishak. He said according to Article 21 (4) of the Sabah State Constitution, the state election has to be held within 60 days of the date of dissolution.

Bersih 2.0 (Sabah) would like to appeal to the Election Commission to allow postal voting for Sabahans working in Sarawak and West Malaysia to cast their votes. COVID-19 still poses a serious threat and risk to the public health. Moreover, flight prices are expensive, and not all eligible Sabahans can afford the ticket home to cast their votes.

We implore the EC to consider the following five points:

1. The COVID-19 pandemic added extra burden for Sabahans who would like to carry out their voting duties, from three perspectives: loss of incomes due to MCO and recession, increase in transportation cost and health risk due to the long journey by flight and other public transportation. The risk of being quarantined 14 days if other passengers are infected with the virus will deter more Sabahans from going home to vote.

2. The right to vote, as the right of every Sabahan as a Malaysian citizen, empowers us to determine the fate of our own state, and the the nation as a whole. The inability to carry out this responsibility is a direct assault on our rights enshrined in the Malaysian Agreement 1963 that promised a democratic federation.

3. Too many Sabahans, especially the youths, have left their hometowns in Sabah due to the under-development of Sabah compared to other states as opportunities for employment, education and other amenities are severely lacking.

4. All these while, even in the absence of the epidemic, the difficulties and cost to return to Sabah to vote have forced many Sabahans, especially those without any financial means and failure to request for leave from work, to not return home to vote and forgo their democratic right to determine the future of our nation. This is as though Sabahans are divided into two classes, the ones who are able to vote and the ones who are not.

5. Failing to overcome these obstacles that prevent Sabahans to vote showed that Kuala Lumpur has structurally sidelined and neglected the welfare of Sabahans since 1963. Even though the Parliamentary Select Committee led by Dr Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili had called for, as early as 2012, the postal votes for Sabahans, Sarawakians and West Malaysians who are away from their own region, this has not been implemented after two general elections. While Malaysians residing overseas have been able to use postal votes since 2018 even if they were oceans away from home, Sabahans cannot do so as if the South China Sea is wider than the Pacific Ocean. The failure to ensure the same right for Sabahans as most West Malaysians who do not have to fly home to vote showed the previous EC placed Sabah amongst their lowest priorities.

Enough is enough! Sabahans in Sarawak and West Malaysia do not want to be administratively disenfranchised anymore, not after 57 years of Malaysia, not when the COVID-19 is hurting more hard-working Sabahans while shameless politicians are raking in millions by pawning their electoral mandates.

We invite members of the Sabah public, of all political, socioeconomic, age and gender backgrounds, to sign the petition addressed to the EC at

Statement issued by
Bersih 2.0 (Sabah)