24 December 2007
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) demands to know if the Election Commission (EC) is trying to prevent Malaysians from registering to vote before the year ends.
Are we seeing a similar situation to what happened in the 1999 General Election, when 680,000 new voters were denied their right to vote as the EC had failed to update the electoral roll in time?
For several weeks now, we have received numerous complaints that the computers at Subang Jaya, Brickfields and Tesco Puchong post offices were ‘offline’ and that they had run out of voter registration forms. These glitches are unacceptable, as it defeats the purpose of having post offices assist in the registration process, which was meant to encourage Malaysians to register as voters at their convenience.
Rumours have been circulating about the General Election being held in March and therefore, end-December would be the deadline for new registrations. If the voter registration computer network is constantly ‘offline’, and/or the post offices have run out of registration forms, either the EC or the Post Office must be held accountable for these technical glitches.
(For those who are unaware, Pos Malaysia receives RM1.80 in commission fees from the EC for every voter they register.)
According to the Election Commission, there are currently 4.5 million Malaysians over 21 years old who have yet to register to vote. Of that, 80% of the 4.5 million are Malays. 80% of them are below 30 years old.
The Election Commission had intended to register at least 1.5 million of them but has so far failed in its mission, partly because most of the unregistered voters are young Malays. It is no secret that the ruling coalition would rather not have them vote, as they fear a repeat of the 1999 General Election results. Not only did nearly half of all Malay voters supported the Opposition, most of them were young urban voters who were disillusioned with the ruling government.
If these ‘technical’ failures on the part of the EC are not due to incompetence but are politically motivated, there is reason to believe that Barisan Nasional is not confident that it can win the support of the Malay community, particularly young urban voters, in light of the hugely successful BERSIH gathering in Kuala Lumpur on 10 November 2007.
Disenfranchising voters via technical problems at post offices?