With physical meets restricted, even Sarawak election candidates from ruling GPS bring campaigns online (VIDEO)

With physical meets restricted, even Sarawak election candidates from ruling GPS bring campaigns online (VIDEO)

Dr Sim is among candidates relying on the technology to make it easier for voters to review his track record. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUCHING, Dec 9 — The ubiquity of QR codes spurred by MySejahtera’s Covid-19 contact tracing may have now influenced election campaigning in Sarawak, where physical events are banned in 18 out of the 82 seats.

Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, who is contesting the Batu Kawah seat for the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), has been one such candidate relying on the technology to make it easier for voters to review his track record.

Displaying his QR code on his campaigning materials and his so-called “war truck” called The Bee, voters can easily scan to be directed to his profile, his report card as a representative, and his manifesto.

On Sunday, the Election Commission said political rallies and speeches for the Sarawak state election are only allowed in 64 constituencies with poor internet access, which included Opar, Bukit Sari, Gedong, Dalat, Simunjan, Ba’kelalan, Marudi, Saribas, Asajaya and Tanjong Datu.

It said the number of attendees for such events should be 50 per cent of the premises’ capacity or a maximum of 150 people at one time, and attendance is limited to residents of the respective village or longhouse.

This has inevitably put a damper on even the ruling GPS and incumbent candidates, especially those contesting less rural areas.

This included Dr Sim, who despite being an incumbent, will be facing a four-corner fight in the urban area near state capital Kuching (but under the Stampin federal constituency).

The restriction has lead the SUPP president to resort to reaching voters through a channel in text messaging app Telegram and appearing in talk shows titled “Heart Talk with Dr Sim” streamed through Facebook Live.

For example in the latest episode, Dr Sim chatted with tech entrepreneur and first-time voter, Joshua Chung. Despite its high production values, the video however did not quite catch on with just two-digit engagement numbers.

Dr Sim will face DAP rising star Dr Kelvin Yii, who is also Bandar Kuching MP, along with Chai Kueh Khun (Parti Bumi Kenyalang – PBK) and Fong Pau Teck (Parti Aspirasi Rakyat Sarawak).

Meanwhile, Dr Sim’s SUPP colleague Datuk Sebastian Ting has been incorporating his morning exercise as part of his online campaigning.

The Piasau seat incumbent started streaming daily walks while interacting virtually through Facebook — answering questions by locals and asking about the welfare of his supporters.

“To keep abreast with the people in Miri, I am using my daily 40-minute morning walk, as well as my Facebook live stream, so that I get the chance to connect with the constituents both physically and virtually,” the party secretary-general told reporters on Tuesday.

Ting will join a five-corner fight against Peter Hee (DAP), Teo Jia Jun (Parti Sarawak Bersatu – PSB), Hanim Jaraee of (Aspirasi), and Chung Siew Yen (PBK).

Just like Ting, PBB’s vice-president Dr Annuar Rapaee has also chosen fitness as his way of reaching out to voters, but with a twist.

Dr Annuar, who contested the Nangka seat in Sibu had invited pop singer Aiman Tino to cycle with him around the constituency on Wednesday.

The post accumulated around 15,000 views with a mostly younger audience who joined to comment during the live session.

“Aiman Tino is cycling with me this afternoon. At the same time, I asked for permission to put up flags and posters in the residents’ houses,” he said in the broadcast.

Dr Annuar is facing a three-corner contest with two women candidates: Intanurazean Wan Sapuan Daud (PSB) and Olivia Lim Wen Sia (PBK).

In the 11th Sarawak state election in 2016, Tan Sri Adenan Satem led GPS component parties — at that time contesting under Barisan Nasional — to win 72 out of the 82 seats.

Polling is set for December 18.

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