Saturday, April 20

10-day campaign period too short, says lecturer


KUCHING: The 10-day campaign period for the upcoming state election is too short as voters need more time to evaluate the platforms of candidates, said Associate Prof Dr Andrew Aeria.

The Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Faculty of Social Sciences lecturer suggested a month-long campaign would be ideal given the geographical terrain and logistical challenges in the state.

“Ten days is not enough for candidates to discuss what they can deliver and in the meantime, voters need to listen to different candidates.

“In the 50s and 60s, the election campaign period in Malaysia lasted for two months. It was cut down, which is no good as a lot of people do not get a chance to learn what a political party is offering,” he said during a recent interview.

For the 10th state election, nomination day will be April 6 and Sarawakians will cast their votes on April 16.

Aeria said the Election Commission (EC) should not underestimate the intelligence of voters in Malaysia.

“In a normal healthy democracy, time should be given to voters to evaluate political parties and their candidates. In Malaysia, it seems that we have an Election Commission that does not appreciate discussions or evaluations,” he said.

Citing the presidential election in the United States, he said politicians there had to stand out in substantive debates if they wanted to garner votes. A large amount of information was also available for the electorate, he added.

He said the election campaign was the key period for various candidates to explain and demonstrate past track records and inform constituents what they would be offering in the next term.

“Imagine Belaga as big as Johor, how are the candidates going to cover all the areas? Likewise in Satok, with over 11,000 voters, how do you expect candidates to cover all in 10 days?

“Be fair and allow a sufficient campaign period so that genuine participatory discussions can enable voters to evaluate who can represent them,” he stressed.