The Election Commission will not extend the 10-day campaign period, saying the population in rural Sarawak is not as scattered as most perceived.
PETALING JAYA: The Election Commission has dismissed calls to increase the number of days allocated for campaigning in Sarawak.
It noted that 10 days of political campaigning were enough for politicians to reach out to their voters during the upcoming Sarawak state election.
EC deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said that the period was reasonable enough for candidates to greet voters in the state’s 71 constituencies.
“A 10-day campaigning period is enough for parties to do their campaigning in the whole state,” he told FMT, adding that the period was a balance between the urban and rural constituencies.
He added that urban candidates only needed a few days to reach out to their voters.
Wan Ahmad argued that while rural areas such as Belaga and Ba Kelalan were larger than their urban counterparts, its populations were not as scattered as most perceived.
“If you go into the interior, the area there is big. But they (voters) are not spread out in a very vast area.
“The population can be found in particular areas such as villages or longhouses.”
“In a campaign, candidates only need to focus on specific areas, not on the whole of Sarawak.
“They only have to convince their voters in that area and explain their manifestos to them,” Wan Ahmad said.
Many in the opposition have asked the EC to consider extending the campaigning period for the April 16 state election to 21 days instead of 10.
Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim reasoned that a longer period of time would allow citizens to get to know their candidates a little better.
Pakatan Rakyat politicians also cited the vastness of the interior, with some settlements unreachable by normal means.
Many areas are accessible only by boat, or by helicopter.
These requests, however, were brushed aside by Wan Ahmad, who said that the 10-day period was already decided upon, and that no more extensions were necessary. Nominations for the polls are on April 6.
He said that a longer campaign period would also mean more spending by both the EC and the affected political parties.
He also said that there was “good communication” between the communities in the interior, and that the constituencies were not altogether isolated.
He also argued that Malaysia’s district-based election system allowed candidates to operate effectively during the shorter campaign period.
“We are not a proportion-based election system such as Indonesia or Thailand, where voting is based on the whole country.
“The people there are voting for each party, not the constituencies themselves,” he said.