Automatic registration will ‘taint’ electoral roll, says PBS

PBS president Maximus Ongkili meets his constituents in Kota Marudu, Sabah.

KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) has voiced its opposition against the automatic registration of new voters as it can “taint” the electoral rolls.

PBS president Maximus Ongkili said the situation regarding the registration of new voters is different in Sabah and Sarawak from the peninsula.

“In Sabah, it is an open secret that there is a large presence of illegal immigrants.

“Thousands of them are suspected to have become voters. They are suspected to be holders of fake identity cards or ICs illegally given or dubious birth certificates,” he said.

He said that if the children of these “doubtful” voters were allowed to automatically become voters upon reaching the age of 18, he feared the electoral rolls would be “polluted” further.

If such a situation was allowed, he said foreigners could determine the future of both the federation and the state as they would have a “big say” on who would become the federal and state governments.

“PBS believes that this is not only serious but would also expose our country and state to political danger.

“We insist that new voters must register and prove they are qualified to vote. It cannot be automatic,” he said.

Besides, he said there was no guarantee that automatic registration would increase voter turnout during elections unless voting was made compulsory like in many countries.

Ongkili said, however, that PBS supported the proposal to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18.

“More education and awareness programmes need to be conducted for young people on why they should practise their rights to vote and take part in the political process.

“We should not be forcing young people to register as voters through legal compulsion,” he said.