18 Aug 2008
Postal Votes – I wonder how Malaysians overseas really get to vote. Considering our very short campaign periods still (and in the past), whereby even in Permatang Pauh by-elections, the number of days from the date of nominations until the casting of votes is just 10.
How long will it take for the Ballot Papers to be prepared?
How long for the ballot papers to be send out to Malaysians overseas?
How long will it take to reach them?
How long does it take for the marked ballots to return, and to be counted?
Well, really there is not enough time for Mr Malaysian, now in Kenya to cast his ballot in the Permatang Pauh by elections …. I really wonder how many Malaysians overseas really get a chance to cast their votes…tell us Mr Minister.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz today rejected a call from the opposition to abolish postal votes, arguing that this was the only way that Malaysians abroad could exercise their rights in elections.
…”But to abolish the system is not possible as it is the basic rights of Malaysian citizens abroad like soldiers and their spouses, police officers as well as other government servants and students,” Nazri said in parliament.
….”And for those working abroad, their voting rights, rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution, would be denied if we actually abolish the postal voting system. So we are sticking to the system,” he reiterated. – Malaysiakini, 18/8/2008 – Nazri: Postal voting to stay
I fully agree that Malaysians who are overseas studying, working temporarily, etc should have a right to vote – but for this too can only be practical, if the number of days for campaigning be increased – so that all that is necessary can be done and they can vote and return ballot papers in time.
Tell us really what is the percentage of all postal votes in GE2008 that were from Malaysians studying and working overseas. I believe that it may be less that 5%.
So, who really are the rest of them ‘Postal Voters’?
They are the members of the armed forces, police, those involved in the conduct of the elections (i.e. SPR staff, and those others you see in and around the polling centres…)
Previously, when it came to the armed forces and/or the police – it was said that there was a lot of hanky panky.
Some of the allegations made were:-
* The police and military voters never saw their own individual ballot papers because someone opened it and marked their ballot papers for them.
* That police and military voters were ordered to vote for the BN. Police and military follow orders and hence dutifully they vote for the BN (or whoever they have been ordered to vote.)
* That police and military voters had to vote in front of their superiors (hence no privacy or secrecy of the vote) and they had no choice but to vote for the BN. Those who did not were penalized…
Over the past few elections, there have been some improvements, in terms of ensuring less hanky panky with regard to postal votes – but really not enough…
There should also be a re-thinking about where soldiers should be voting. A batallion from Sarawak voting for Permatang Pauh is odd. Better, if they are voting in the constituencies where they come from (to where they will return ultimately) rather than for in a constituency where they are temporarily posted.
After all, the rest of Malaysians working in KL or other places still do go back to their home-towns to vote.
Or should we standardize things – and make sure that people vote in the place that they are currently residing in. (Or do we allow people the freedom to choose where they want to vote in – their ‘kampung’ or where they are now residing/working/studying).
Should all Universiti Malaya students be voting in the Pantai Dalam Parliamentary Constituency?
Back to postal voting – to ensure that persons overseas reasonably have the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes taken into account – the campaigning period (the period between the nomination day and the voting day) must be enlarged – to at the very least 28 days.
There must also be provisions made as to how candidates can campaign them postal voters – Maybe each candidate should be allowed to prepare and submit a campaign pamphlet (A4 size front and back) within 2 days after nominations – so that this 1-page campaign document could be inserted in the envelopes containing the ballot papers send to each and every voter. Then, the postal voter too will have the opportunity to know the candidates, their policies, etc – and will be able to freely choose and vote for his/her candidate of choice… What about this recomendation about improving the postal ballot..
Still, when asked by another legislator Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN – Kinabatangan), on how the government planned to improve the postal voting system, Nazri could only say, “That one I hope you can give recommendations on how to improve the postal voting system.” – Malaysiakini, 18/8/2008 – Nazri: Postal voting to stay
By the way, surely Electoral Reforms and SPR do not come under the Prime Minister’s Department, should it not come directly under Parliament. Or, is the SPR under the PM?
I believe that the Opposition MPs can also table a Bill to bring about Electoral Reforms in Parliament – and surely it would not be time wasted. Even if rejected, at least, we would have been clear as to what exactly are the electoral reforms that we want. And soon, when the Pakatan Rakyat comes into power – it will be so easy, and without delay, the Bill for Electoral Reforms can be tabled and hopefully passed….
Do not just ask questions in Parliament – propose also specific reforms… make recommendations…