BERSIH demands explanation for the “Phantoms of SPR”

20 November 2007

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) demands that the Election Commission (SPR) Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid explain how “phantoms” were created in Ijok, Ipoh and numerous other places.

BERSIH dismisses Abdul Rashid’s attempt to divert attention by focusing only on the 142 missing ballots in Ijok and ignoring the bigger scandals in the Ijok by-election on 28 April 2007:
Over 50 dead voters were still on the electoral roll and 12 of them, all of them Malays from the Jaya Setia polling district, rose up from their graves to cast their votes on polling day. Opposition support was slashed by about 18% in this district.
Three Chinese voters at Pekan Ijok had their votes stolen by impostors, who had turned up earlier at the polling station. A swing against BN had been expected and realized at the Chinese-majority polling district.
As many as 23 voters were registered without national identity cards.
As many as 32 voters aged between 100 and 132 years old were still listed on the electoral rolls.
BERSIH stresses that such irregularities are not isolated cases, but rather, they reflect systematic patterns. Most recently, Ipoh Timur (the seat of the Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang which he won with a margin of 9,774 votes) saw an increase of 8,463 registered voters. The problem is more than just a clandestine form of gerrymandering.
The integrity of the electoral roll in Ipoh Timor is reflective of the integrity of the SPR. Prominent local blogger Ahirudin Attan (Rocky’s Bru) who had never registered as a voter found out that he has been a resident and voter at Taman Rapat Setia since 1999. Another example is a Ms. L.L. Wong, who has never registered as a voter, recently found that she has been a voter in Johor Baru since 1990.
The SPR has tried to blame this on some assistant registration officers who used the old registration system before July 2002 but it has failed to given any names to support the accusations. It has also failed to guarantee that all such irregularities will be rectified and not be repeated since the new registration system was introduced in 2002.
The petition by 100,000 members of the public to the Yang DiPertuan Agong on 10 November was to express, amongst others, this legitimate demand: the electoral roll must be cleaned up so that all phantoms can be exterminated before the next general election.
BERSIH also dismisses SPR’s attribution of the 142 missing ballots in Ijok to “human errors” as irrelevant to the larger question of the necessity of postal voting. If 142 missing ballots can be explained away, how about the missing ballots in Lumut, which were as high as 2,763 in 1990; 3,487 in 1995; 8,176 in 1999 and 5,486 in 2004?
Abdul Rashid has in the past attributed such missing ballots to postal voting. Can the people trust the electoral process when thousands of ballots are mismanaged in every election? Is Abdul Rashid not concerned about his commission’s integrity and credibility?
Taking the example of Ipoh Timur, 3,208 of the 8,463 increased voters for the next elections are postal voters. In 2004, 92.9% of f the 4,807 postal votes in Bukit Bintang went to the BN. The local residents must wonder where all these police officers and army personnel in the city centre are hiding, as the high figure of policemen is not reflected in the actual situation on the ground.
BERSIH emphasizes that domestic postal voting must be abolished. Monitoring of the voting process is insufficient because postal voters are also assigned en masse to any marginal constituency to counter Opposition support as and when deemed necessary by the BN.