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GE13: Overseas voting begins

April 28, 2013

Polling centres in Australia, India and China reported smooth polling processes.

KUALA LUMPUR:  Registered Malaysian voters living abroad began casting their ‘overseas’ votes for the 13th general election today.

BERNAMA reported that voting had commenced in Australia, India and China.

In all polling centres, the process went off without a hitch with many voters expressing their pleasure at being able to do so for the first time.

In AUSTRALIA,  Malaysians turned up in large numbers to cast their vote at three polling centres across the country.

Officials in Canberra, Melbourne and Perth said the postal voting was smooth and orderly, which they described as a credit to Malaysians.

Malaysian High Commissioner to Australia, Salman Ahmad, said that “everything went smoothly”.

“There was a good atmosphere with Malaysians catching up with friends and relatives.

“We had some food stalls and I think everyone had a good time,” he said.

Considering it was the first time polling was conducted overseas, he said the experience would be helpful in the future.

In Melbourne, where about 1,700 voters had registered, the crowds were overwhelming with two queues stretching more than 70 metres outside the Malaysian consulate in St Kilda Rd, for almost the whole day.

A young Malaysian said she had arrived at the Malaysian consulate at 10am and had completed voting about 2pm.

“It was not a pleasant experience standing for so long but I am very happy I had the opportunity to vote,” she said.

Long distances travelled

Polling in Perth, which had about 350 registered voters, also went without a hitch.

Many Malaysians travelled long distances to vote. Perhaps, the longest distance covered was by a Malaysian in Sydney who found his name in the Perth list.

He flew almost five hours to Perth, which cost him about A$640 (RM1,997) in airfares alone.

A Brisbane doctor flew to Melbourne, incurring costs of about A$350 (RM1,092) in airfares with incidentals amounting to about A$250 (RM780).

“I am lucky I have accommodation at a friend’s apartment in Melbourne,” he said.

Sydney voters mostly went to Canberra while those in Adelaide came here.

Polling could not be held in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide because they do not have Malaysian consulate services.

Meanwhile in INDIA,  Malaysians came out to vote in three different locations, namely New Delhi, Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and Mumbai (Maharashtra).

In New Delhi, 31 citizens, including 23 Malaysian High Commission staff  cast their votes.

The rest are Malaysians residing in various places in North India.

Ghanaseharan Muniandy, who was among the early birds, said the government’s initiative of enabling Malaysians residing overseas to vote was a move in the right direction.

“It enables me and the rest of Malaysians globally to exercise our democratic rights. Otherwise, many of us would have been left out,” he said when met at the Malaysian High Commission here today.

Malaysia’s  come a long way

He believed that Malaysia had come a long way, in terms of political maturity.

“The government has opened up and heard the people’s call, which is good,” said Ghanaseharan, who works for a Malaysian company based in Chandigarh, Punjab.

Another voter in New Delhi, Sunita Chima, said: “It is a great deal today to be voting.

“The Malaysian High Commission in New Delhi has been very informative and supportive, considering postal voting has been implemented for the first time for Malaysians living overseas.

“This is the first time for me, taking my vote to the ballot box. Better late than never, they say.”

At the Chennai Consulate-General, a total of 53 Malaysians are expected to vote, including consulate staff, Malaysians working in South India, as well as students.

As for Mumbai, 15 Malaysians are voting at the Consul-General’s office.

Voting in China

IN CHINA, 61  voters who made up about 34% of 177 Malaysians voters residing in Beijing have cast their votes via post at the Malaysian embassy here as of 11am today.

The postal voters comprising 55 absentee voters and 122 Malaysians residing  abroad and Election Commission (EC) workers will exercise their right to vote today.

Malaysian ambassador to China Iskandar Sarudin was here at 11am to cast his votes for the Rembau parliamentary and Rantau state constituencies.

He also lauded the EC’s move in setting up a station to facilitate Malaysians to exercise their right as voters with the new postal voting system.

Besides the Malaysian embassy here, Malaysians residing in China can also cast their votes through postal ballots at the Malaysian consulates-general in Shanghai, Kunming, Guangzhou and Hong Kong between 9am and 6pm today.

Those residing in Taiwan can cast their votes at the Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre, Taipei.

-Bernama


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