KUCHING, Oct 8 ― The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) Backbenchers' Club today accused Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh of making a baseless allegation that the ruling coalition is rushing to call a state election out of fear of 18-year olds changing the outcome.
The club claimed Wong was shifting the blame on GPS when the state polls should be held as soon as possible to prevent further delays to the democratic process.
“As a responsible and knowledgeable political party, PSB should by now, be prepared in facing the state election and not make baseless accusations against GPS, alleging that the state government is purportedly rushing the state polls due to fear of the 18-year olds.
“For GPS, it will continue to safeguard the lives and livelihood of the people and we believe that the track record of the state government in managing Sarawak is for all to see, be it in terms of infrastructure development and pandemic response,” the club said in a statement.
In a statement yesterday, Wong had claimed “trusted sources” had told him that there are those within GPS pushing for a state election to be called soon despite the high number of Covid-19 cases in Sarawak.
The hornbill state has consistently recorded the most cases nationwide, with the Health Ministry recording 1,413 new cases in Sarawak alone yesterday.
Wong also claimed those within GPS pushing for the polls believed that allowing 18-year-olds to vote would be disadvantageous to the ruling coalition and were trying to beat the court-issued deadline of December 31, 2021.
“The GPS government welcomes the participation of youths in the democratic process, enabling their voices to be heard as well as injecting political maturity in the current climate,” the club said.
"We view that the youths, when given the opportunity, can evaluate for themselves the quality of service rendered by the current state government especially following the Covid-19 pandemic in terms of saving lives and ensuring livelihoods," it added.
The club said Sarawak has been the fastest vaccinating state throughout the nation, with it now administering the Covid-19 vaccines to adolescents aged 12 to 17.
It said starting this month, Sarawak will be administering the Covid-19 third dose or booster dose to the priority group.
"In terms of ensuring livelihood, Sarawak the only state that has introduced a substantial pandemic assistance through the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance (BKSS), which started with its first package (1.0) in March last year until the seventh package (7.0) in August this year, with a total expenditure of RM5.3 billion.
"The value of this string of packages is the largest given by a state in Malaysia during Covid-19," the club said.
It added these initiatives have also benefitted the youths along with the assistance packages given by the federal government where it helped tide them over during the Covid-19 period.
"While we ensure the lives of the people, we have a duty to uphold the State Constitution where an election has to be held after the expiry of the State Legislative Assembly. As we know, Sarawak state assembly has passed its five-year period on June 6," the club said.