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M’sians abroad keen to vote in ‘transparent’ election

May 16, 2012

Malaysians living overseas hope they can be given equal chance to exercise their voting rights.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians abroad who are keen to vote, if allowed to in the coming 13th general election, hope for a transparent process and a secure mechanism from the Election Commission (EC) to avoid allegations such as fraud.

Malaysians living overseas either for work or study have high hopes that as citizens, they be given equal chance to exercise their voting rights now that their wish has been looked into, including the formation of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reform.

“It’s a good move so that every citizen can exercise their rights. The EC should be more transparent and the move should not invite any sort of dissatisfaction among voters and political parties involved,” said Hanif Mohamed Talha, 40, a Malaysian who has been living in Newcastle for four years now.

The photographer, whose wife Norfadzlinda Ishak is pursuing her PhD studies there, told Bernama via e-mail that the EC must ensure that the voting mechanism be totally secure to avoid fraud and other irregularities.

Akmar Ismail, 38, a PhD student at Victoria University of Wellington, said the opportunity for Malaysians abroad to vote would instil patriotism in them and be a good reminder of their roots, apart from encouraging them to be alert on developments back home.

“When you vote, surely you want something good; benefits for the people, from the party you choose. Although you are not physically present, there are your parents, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles back home who may benefit from the one vote you give. You look at what the ruling government offers,” she added.

EC chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof was quoted as saying that he did not suggest that only Malaysians overseas who pay taxes be allowed to do postal voting, but there might be some regulations that needed to be fine-tuned.

One could be that they must register as postal voters to be eligible to vote, he said, adding that other conditions could be the length of time they stayed overseas and whether they had come back for a visit.

‘My 1Vote is for 1Malaysia’

However, PSC chairman Maximus Ongkili said it was not possible for Malaysians staying abroad to do postal voting in this coming general election as there must first be changes in the law and regulations.

A US-based bank corporate action specialist, Khairil Azhar Junos, said the Malaysian government should encourage Malaysians abroad to vote in the coming election.

“There’s a disconnection between the government and individuals once they crossed the border to live abroad,” said Khairil Azhar, who has been in the US for almost 15 years.

“I am currently a permanent resident of the US. However, I am still a proud Malaysian citizen and I always read Malaysian online newspapers to keep abreast of the current situation back home,” he said.

He also suggested that the government keep Malaysians abroad informed on the current voting process and how to participate either via secure e-mail or other online interactive methods.

“The government should enable each citizen to register for online or mail voting system with proof of passport, MyKad or birth certificate once they are eligible to vote.

“I hope my vote will secure a spot for my future in the coming election. My 1Vote is for 1Malaysia,” he said through an e-mail response to Bernama.

Faizul Amin Othman, 41, a food and beverage assistant director at Khaildiya Palace Rayhaan Hotel in Abu Dhabi and who has been in the United Arab Emirates for five years, said it would be a welcomed move to allow Malaysians abroad to vote.

“It would be the first time for me to vote since I have been away from my hometown, Selama, in Perak since I started working. I don’t have any problem of voting at the Malaysian embassy or do it online,” he said when met in Abu Dhabi recently.

Clear-cut regulation

Meanwhile, Hulu Selangor MP P Kamalanathan, who is one of the PSC members, said there had been a lengthy discussion on the possibility for Malaysians abroad to vote and on postal voters.

“There should be a clear-cut regulation. One of our neighbouring countries has been implementing a regulation that requires its citizens to be back home every five years and for 30 days to make them eligible to vote.

“We agreed to allow postal voting for Malaysians but the opposition representative was against it,” he said.

Kamalanathan said the opposition was not sincere enough about postal voting for Malaysians, such as for Sabahans and Sarawakians working in the peninsula and vice versa, so that they could exercise their voting rights.

He said the opposition representative in the PSC pushed for and wanted Malaysians abroad to vote, but disagreed to let these people vote by post.

“These people who live, work and pay taxes in Malaysia should be given this right too, and not just Malaysians abroad,” he said.



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