Coming home to vote

KUCHING: Sarawakian voters who flew home from Kuala Lumpur to vote say the effort was worth it.

Mother-of-two Serina Lim made a day trip to Kuching with her sister to vote and help deliver a postal ballot that arrived in Kuala Lumpur from Australia a day earlier.

Within the span of four hours, she also found time to enjoy kolo mee and laksa before heading back to the airport.

“Last year I took a sabbatical from work to be a stay-at-home mother. With financial constraints, I was wondering if I could afford to fly back home to vote.

“But then I thought, how could I afford not to vote? It was hard leaving my eight-month-old baby in Kuala Lumpur, my longest separation from him so far.

“I believe that every vote counts and that as Malaysians, we should exercise our right to vote. Turning up at the polling station to cast your vote shows your love for your country and your hope for a better Malaysia.”

Lasung showing her inked finger after casting her ballot.
Lim was also inspired by stories of Malaysians who made sacrifices in order to vote.

“One of my best friends has cancer. She changed her chemotherapy dates to make it back to vote between treatments, even though she is supposed to avoid crowds due to her weak immune system.

“But with a mask and a prayer, she’s back here to vote. People like her, who are willing to go the extra mile inspire me to do the same,” she said.

Fellow Sarawakian Shawn Kong said he bought his flight tickets to come back to vote on the day the polling date was announced.

His siblings picked him up from the airport and he went straight to the polling station.

After voting, he enjoyed laksa and spent some time with his family before flying back to Kuala Lumpur.

“I believe that as citizens we should do our part to cast our vote,” Kong said.

Voters waiting for their turn at SJK© Thian Chin, Sibu. — Bernama
Meanwhile, Sarah Lasung decided to wear the national costume to vote after seeing a post on social media.

“I thought it was a good way to show our identity as Malaysians.”

Dressed in a pink batik baju kurung, Sarah said she felt self-conscious at first at the polling station.

“I also wore my Lun Bawang bead necklace to show that I’m voting for my people,” she added.

Meanwhile in Miri, many working in Brunei came back to vote.

Saidin Hussein from Kampung Pulau Melayu said he came back with his wife from their work place in the Seria district some 30 minutes from the Sarawak border.

“There was no traffic jam. After this we will go back.”

Election Commission statistics showed there were 9,354 newly-registered voters in Miri.

This makes the Miri parliamentary seat one of the places with the highest number of first-time voters.

According to the EC, the new voters are mostly from the 40 and below age group.

However, a check showed that some voters faced minor glitches.

A family who came to SK Bintang to vote were told their names were in the list for the SK Permaisuri polling station.

Another man said he was mistakenly identified as someone who had already voted.

He said both their names were similar and the EC counter staff told him he had already voted earlier in the morning.

He complained to the EC officials present and showed his unmarked finger.

After checks, the EC clerks allowed him to vote.

In Sibu, good weather resulted in high voter turnout at most polling centres in the Sibu and Lanang constituencies.

There were several early birds waiting at the gate before voting started at 8am

Shipping executive, Albert Tay, 52, said he was caught in a traffic jam and missed a reunion with his former schoolmates who were back to vote.

On a normal day, it takes Tay 10 minutes to reach his voting centre, SMK Sacred Heart, from his home at Jalan Lucky, a distance of 4km.

Yesterday, it took him 45 minutes to reach the school.

“The traffic was especially heavy after 10am,” said Tay who missed lunch with his friends as he had to send his mother to a different polling centre.