22 September 2020

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob made a statement today to state that “Those who test positive for Covid-19 are forbidden from voting in the upcoming Sabah polls.” However, those who are placed under a quarantine order can vote, provided that such voters apply to the district health office and be accompanied to the polling centre.

The basic and fundamental principle in any elections is that every citizen of Malaysia has the right to vote and all means and measures should be made to ensure that citizens exercise this constitutional right.

Therefore, while I agree that those who are tested positive for Covid-19 should not come out to vote but I am appalled that the Minister and even SPR did not think it necessary to arrange for alternative measures to ensure that these patients get to vote. If alternative measures can be taken for those under self-quarantine, then new normal measures can be arranged to accommodate the patients of Covid-19. To make a blanket statement to disallowed them vote by the Minister is disenfranchising the rights of the citizens. Unless and until the patients categorically say they do not want to vote as they are very ill, access to the right to vote must be given as an option and it is not for the Minister or any government to make the decision for voters on when they can or cannot vote.

I strongly call for all efforts to be made within the next 4-5 days to have new normal arrangements for patients who are positive with Covid-19 to be able to vote. This is possible as we are only talking about 1129 positive cases of Covid-19 and not millions of cases. SPR should have the capacity to make new normal arrangement as they are only dealing with a state election and not a national election.

I also urge any patients who would want to bring this case to court to demand that SPR takes the responsibility to have new normal arrangements for positive Covid-19 patients to vote. I will definitely support such an action if SPR refuses to protect this right to vote.

SPR in countries like Indonesia made the extra effort to deliver the ballot boxes to the hospitals to enfranchise voters. In Malaysia the PN government is unfortunately putting up barriers for voters to vote without exploring new ways of conducting elections. This is totally unacceptable.

I also urge the PN government and SPR to be more prepared for GE15 as they have the duty and responsibility to enfranchise all voters to have access to vote.

Maria Chin Abdullah
MP Petaling Jaya