Voter registration exercise a subtle hint

Saturday January 12, 2008
Shanghai Bund

Records of past elections show that few Malaysians actually made it to the polls at the consulate and embassy offices in China.

IF IT’S any hint of an impending general election, copies of the Form A for Malaysians living overseas to register as voters have arrived at the Malaysian consulate office in the metropolis.
Malaysians in Shanghai and Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces wishing to exercise their right to vote can now visit the consulate office to fill up the forms.
“We will open the electors’ registration process from Jan 14 to 25 during office hours,” consul-general in Shanghai Azmil Zabidi said.
“After the period, we will send the forms to the Elections Commission which will decide whether they are qualified to vote.”
Despite the availability of such a facility, not many Malaysians in China have used it. Records of past elections showed that only a few electors actually made it to the polls at the consulate and embassy offices in China.
Azmil said the forms would be placed at the consulate office during the period and Malaysians could bring along their identification documents and fill up the forms there.
“They must present their MyKad and fill up the form on the spot. We won’t allow them to take the form back,” he said.
“These forms will also be available at our consulate offices in Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Kunming as well as our embassy in Beijing.”
Azmil said the consulate office would inform Malaysians registered with the office about the elector’s registration via e-mail.
He urged those who had not provided the office with their e-mail address to contact the office as soon as possible.
He said they would also inform the Malaysian Association in the People’s Republic of China (Maproc), Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shanghai Chapter, Malaysian Association of Jiangsu (Maju) and students’ associations so that they could spread the word around.
Registration is also open to those who are registered electors but would like to change their address. The Elections Commission will then determine in which constituency the registered elector votes.
“The Elections Commission will need some time to update its electoral roll. Then, they will usually send us the ballot papers a week before polling day,” Azmil said.
“The qualified electors will have to come to the consulate office to cast their votes on polling day. The ballot papers will be counted and sent back to Malaysia on the same day itself.
He added that the process had remained the same for the previous election and the Elections Commission did not issue any notice or give the consulate office any special briefing on any change.
Only Malaysian citizens who have attained 21 years of age, reside in any constituency, and have not been disqualified before, are qualified as electors.
In Malaysia, qualified electors can register with the Elections Commission offices, post offices and mobile teams set up by the commission throughout the year.
There are about 2,000 Malaysians registered with the consulate office in Shanghai.
Azmil stressed that only those registered with the consulate office would be contacted to fill up the elector’s registration forms.
“There are probably more than 4,000 Malaysians working in Shanghai but only some 2,000 have registered with us,” he said.
“It’s not that we want to track them down; we need to know who they are. Some Malaysians are not registered with us but want to ask for our help. I urge them to register at the consulate office as soon as possible.”
Maju president Michael Oh said that the association would disseminate the information on the registration of electors at the consulate office to its members, mainly Malaysians living in Jiangsu province.
“In the last election, our members did not visit the consulate office in Shanghai to register as electors as the consulate office told us that there was no directive from Wisma Putra,” he said.
“Most of our over 100 members did not return to Malaysia to vote at that time. But this time, we will inform them about the facility available at the consulate office in Shanghai.”
Oh added that the association had often urged newcomers to Jiangsu to register with the consulate office so that the latter could serve Malaysians living in China better.