Malaysia

Election offence to provide flights for voters, says Ambiga

By Boo Su-Lyn
May 03, 2013

Ambiga described as ‘very suspicious’ the flying in of voters from east Malaysia. — Picture by Choo Choy MayAmbiga described as ‘very suspicious’ the flying in of voters from east Malaysia. — Picture by Choo Choy MayKUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — “Friends” of Barisan Nasional (BN) have committed an election offence by flying in voters from east Malaysia to key states in the peninsula, says senior lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan.

Ambiga, who is the co-chair of polls watchdog Bersih, also said such flights were “very suspicious” and pointed out that it was usually Sabahans and Sarawakians working in the peninsula who have to fly back home to vote in the Borneo states, and not the other way round.

“It’s an offence under 20(6)(b),” Ambiga told The Malaysian Insider late last night, referring to the Election Offences Act 1954.

The prominent lawyer pointed out that under that section, voters may be ferried to their polling stations across the sea, but that such transportation must be provided to all voters.

She noted, however, that since such flights were provided by “friends” of BN, it was likely that the flights were only for those voting for the coalition.

“You’ve got to give it to everybody. That’s the test. You can’t be selective,” said Ambiga.

Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor acknowledged yesterday that voters were being flown in to the peninsula, but stressed that the flights were sponsored by “friends” of BN as part of the party’s “get out the vote” campaign for Election 2013.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday that over 40,000 dubious voters, including foreigners, from Sabah and Sarawak have been flown in since last week to key states in the peninsula like Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

The Prime Minister’s Office has denied Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) claim that it is involved in flying in Malaysians and foreigners to the peninsula to vote in Sunday’s polls.

National carrier MAS has also denied allegations that it is deploying chartered flights to transport phantom voters.

Ambiga urged BN to disclose the full list of voters who are being flown in to the peninsula and where they will be casting their votes in what is considered to be the closest election since independence.

“They should just come clean and tell us the whole story — who they are, their names, where are they are supposed to vote and would they have objections to people interviewing them,” said the former Bar Council president.

“Are these west Malaysians living or working in east Malaysia? Why is it they’re in such large groups only in certain areas of west Malaysia?” she added.

Ambiga also dismissed Tengku Adnan’s claim that such flights were normal practice during elections, saying: “Planeloads are so unusual.”

A whopping 28 per cent of Sabah’s population, or 889,000 people, are foreigners who mostly come from the Philippines and Indonesia.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah, which began last January, has revealed testimonies by Filipinos and other foreigners on how they received blue ICs within just a few years of arriving in Sabah and subsequently voted in elections.