DAP blames EC for low overseas postal voter registrations

By Boo Su-Lyn
April 05, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 — The DAP blamed the Election Commission (EC) today for the registration of only 6,298 Malaysian voters abroad, or 0.6 per cent, out of about a million Malaysians living overseas.

The Star Online reported EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof as saying yesterday that the low figures were “quite disappointing”, despite the polls regulator providing a “convenient registration process”.

“The announcement for overseas postal voting was only done on January 21st, 2013, after the gazetting of the Quarter 4, 2012 electoral roll,” DAP election strategist Dr Ong Kian Ming said in a statement today.

“This meant that those Malaysians overseas who had not yet registered as a voter, which is probably the majority of them, were not eligible to apply to be an overseas postal voter after the announcement of the EC guidelines on overseas voting,” he added.

Ong also accused the EC of not “aggressively” reaching out to overseas Malaysians before January to register as regular voters first, before registering as postal voters.

“As far as I know, the EC did not allocate any budgetary resources, nor did it work with Wisma Putra, to conduct an aggressive voter registration exercise for Malaysians overseas,” said Ong.

He also noted that advocacy group MyOverseasVote found out last July that several Malaysian embassies and consulates had received inconsistent information on who could register as regular voters through them.

“This shows the serious failure on the part of the EC to communicate and implement a standard registration procedure among the Malaysian embassies and consulates,” he said.

Ong pointed out that he received many questions from overseas Malaysians last Wednesday - the day Parliament was dissolved - about how to register as postal voters.

“This clearly shows that the EC failed in its outreach to Malaysian voters which resulted in the low number of registrations,” he said.

Ong also criticised the EC for barring Malaysians living in Singapore, southern Thailand, Kalimantan in Borneo Indonesia and Brunei from registering as postal voters.

He further noted that the EC’s website crashed last Wednesday, which was the deadline to register as overseas postal voters.

“Instead of expressing his disappointment, the Election Commission chairman should instead apologise to Malaysians overseas for not doing his duty as chairman,” said Ong.

The DAP highlighted last January defects in the overseas voting process, including the EC’s delay in allowing those living overseas to vote.

The EC was also criticised for permitting overseas voters only a day to collect their ballot and cast their votes at the respective embassies, which would make it difficult for those living far from the embassies.

DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke had said that discrepancies could arise after the EC said it would bar party polling agents from observing the overseas voting process.