50,000 new ballot boxes distributed amid talk of polls

Oct 24, 07

Fifty thousand transparent ballot boxes have started to be distributed here in a bid to counteract allegations of vote rigging, election authorities said today, amid speculation of snap polls.
The boxes will be used for the first time in the next general election, replacing black boxes that have been in use since 1955, Election Commission general secretary Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor told state news agency Bernama.
Malaysian newspapers have been rife with speculation about the date of the next ballot, which must be held within five years of the last general elections which took place on March 21, 2004.
Early polls expected
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to call for early polls, for a variety of reasons including to prevent former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim from taking part.
Anwar was a deputy premier and heir-apparent to former leader Mahathir Mohamad until 1998, when he was sacked after sodomy and corruption charges that saw him jailed for six years.
The sodomy conviction has been overturned but the corruption conviction still stands, barring him from standing for public office until April 2008.
Election Commission chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said the new boxes would reduce allegations of cheating.