COMMENT | The recent Malaysiakini article on how the Sabah state election seeded the third Covid-19 wave highlighted this reason: “[…] interstate travel […] allowed returnees from Sabah to seed new outbreaks in other states.”
This ties to the problem of voter addresses in our electoral roll not reflecting the reality of residence. In August 2020, Senator Donald Peter Mojuntin stated that 18 percent of Sabahan voters do not reside in Sabah. One of the major grumbles from Sabahans over the snap elections there was the cost of exercising their voting right. Malaysians are failing to fulfil a simple responsibility – updating their voting addresses.
According to the law, a Malaysian citizen qualifies to be a voter upon attaining the age of 21 years and above and is resident in a constituency. This is explicit in Article 119 of the Federal Constitution which defines the qualifying date as the date when one applies to be an elector or requests for a change of constituency. Before 1960, the article required the elector to be resident in a constituency for at least six months before qualifying.
In the current version, the residency term limit has been removed. Article 119 (1) must be read together with Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002 (ROE). ROE 12 (1) states that “[…] (an elector) who desires to transfer his registration to a different locality in which he is qualified to be registered to forward personally his application to the registrar of the registration area or the assistant registrar of the registration unit in which he is qualified as an elector or to any registrar of any registration area or any other assistant registrar of any registration unit.”
Herein lies the problem - the ...