High Court says no to overseas ‘absent voters’
UPDATED @ 12:58:37 PM 06-01-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — The KL High Court dismissed today the application of six Malaysians residing in Britain to be registered as absent voters in the next general election.
The six are Dr Teo Hoon Seong, electrical engineer V. Vinesh, entrepreneur Paramjeet Singh, Dr Yolanda Sydney Augustin, translator Sim Tze Wei and software architect Leong See See.
Their lawyer Edmund Bon submitted that the Election Commission had acted illegally and irrationally when it rejected the application of the six, and also failed to give any reason or basis to justify their exclusion.
The EC’s regulations define an “absent voter” only as citizens who are members of the armed forces, public servants, full-time students, or their spouses, and thus allowed to cast postal votes.
Article 119 of the Federal Constitution, however, broadly defines “absent voters” as voters so long as they are citizens above 21 years of age, and are registered as electors for their respective constituencies.
Today, judge Datuk Rohana Yusuf ruled that the applicants “clearly” did not come under the allowed absent voter category.
She pointed out that the six were not challenging the validity of Regulation 2 of the Elections Act, which defines the term “absent voter”, calling it “odd” that they are disputing a “perfectly valid” decision of the EC.
On October 25 last year, the plaintiffs applied for judicial review to compel the EC to register them as absent voters in the next general election.
They had sought a declaration that, as Malaysians staying abroad, they were entitled to be registered as absent voters, and directed the EC, named as the sole respondent, to register them.
They also sought to quash a decision by the EC, which notified them in a letter dated September 9 the same year, that it would not register them as “absent voters”.
Today, Rohana described the plaintiffs’ argument as “naïve and ignorant”, adding that the regulatory and administrative arms of the EC were two separate powers.
“The application, in my view, is ludicrous and bordering an abuse of the court process,” she said.