EC’s Deafening Silence on Discrepancies, Malaysian Voters Protest in London

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Overseas Malaysian voters are upset by the delays in getting their ballot papers and the impossible deadline to return them, while Global Bersih is shocked at the EC’s denial of faulty overseas voting procedure.

With hours to go before GE14, the Election Commission (EC) is keeping mum about various concerns, suspicions and complaints raised by voters nationwide, which is irking voters.

This is especially with regards to overseas voters, many of whom had expressed alarm after not having received their ballot papers on time, while others faced problems with inconsistencies with the Returning Officers’ guidelines on postal voting.

However, despite coming under fire from various quarters, EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah has refused to comment on issues of alleged continued discrepancies in the run-up to May 9.

The media, as with social media users, both had raised various complaints and concerns which require prompt action by the EC.

Some of these include confusion as to how residents with the same address, are forced to vote in different polling stations, and worst, having to vote in differing parliamentary constituencies.

A voter complained that the postal vote return envelopes had no address stamped on them, hence voters do not know where to send their ballots to.

Bersih 2.0 said it has submitted 80 complaints questioning the integrity of the electoral roll last month.

For now, completely ignoring all media queries seems to be the only consistent practice by the EC and its officials.

The EC chief prefers to release statements that barely answer all concerns and issues raised.

He had even refused to take questions at a press conference when announcing the nomination and polling days.

According to The Sun, Mohd Hashim’s deafening silence on the issues only serves to further compound the public’s fears that there is manipulation of the voting process.

The daily said the entire process of GE14 has been notoriously marred with ambiguity right from the pre-election period, the controversial redelineation process and its hurried passing in the Dewan Rakyat, to the announcement of polling day, and the EC’s refusal to allow Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) from acting as one of the election watchdogs.

Meanwhile, some 30 overseas Malaysians staged a protest against the EC in London yesterday over the late arrival of ballot papers.

Lee Long Hui

The protest, organised by Bersih UK, took place in front of the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board office near Trafalgar Square at noon, local time. However, the tourism office was closed as it was a bank holiday in the UK.

Most of the protesters were dressed in Bersih’s trademark yellow, and repeatedly chanted “EC, where are our postal votes?”, “EC sabotages postal votes,” and “We want a clean and free election.”

Some held placards bearing the words “Where is our ballot paper?”, “EC is a liar,” while other signs bore cartoons by Zunar.

In her speech, Bersih UK coordinator Dr Yolanda Augustin took aim at the EC for its apparent incompetence in handling overseas postal voting.

“It is because the campaign period is too short for us to receive the ballot papers. These are lost votes, and the EC has spent taxpayers’ money to send the ballot papers overseas,” Augustin, a registered Petaling Jaya voter, was quoted saying.

She also said that Bersih UK was mulling a legal challenge against the EC for the mismanagement of postal votes, Malaysiakini reported.

The demonstration attracted the attention of some tourists and passers-by, who stopped to take photos and videos. It lasted for an hour before protesters dispersed peacefully. Police was not present during the protest.

Reform movement Aliran reported that Global Bersih chapters in Ireland, France, Geneva, Germany, London, Milan, Netherlands and Scotland are shocked at the blatant denial by Mohd Hashim of the major problem in the overseas voting procedure for the general election.

The ballots have not yet reached all Malaysians voters. It will, therefore, be impossible to return them to the returning officer before the deadline.

In his statement on 6 May, Mohd Hashim assured voters that the ballot papers would arrive in time to reach their returning officers before 5pm on 9 May. His exact statement: “I am confident that postal votes, including the overseas ballots, will return in time. We still have time so there is no need to worry.”

He also assured the public at a press conference on Sunday that there were “no technical problems”, attributing the complaints to an “excitement” to vote.

Caretaker deputy home minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed was similarly dismissive and earned the ire of Malaysians with a tweet on Sunday that said the number of overseas voters was insignificant and would not affect the overall outcome of the general election.

Even those overseas Malaysian voters who have received their ballots on Saturday, 5 May are unable to return them on time and are looking for alternative ways such as organising vote carriers to carry their votes back.

It was earlier reported that overseas Malaysian voters incur a hefty cost to return their ballot papers, and as the deadline approaches the cost has skyrocketed.

According to Aliran, an enquiry with DHL Swiss yesterday by a Lausanne-based Malaysian revealed that in order to guarantee delivery to Malaysia by the deadline, the only option is Same Day Express Delivery Service – which will cost a whopping CHF5000 (RM19,300)!


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