Sabah parties concerned over auto registration of voters

KOTA KINABALU: Although Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) supported lowering the voting age in yesterday’s historic vote, they say several conditions must be met before the bill, which includes the automatic registration of voters, can be implemented in Sabah.

PBS president Maximus Ongkili said the recommendations put before MPs in the Dewan Rakyat were nothing new as they had been proposed by the parliamentary select committee chaired by him in 2011. However, they were not adopted at the time.

He said PBS had always believed that youths should be allowed more opportunities to participate in political decision-making and democratic responsibilities.

“However, the provision for automatic registration must be treated with care,” he told FMT when contacted.

“The select committee in 2011 recommended that the Election Commission (EC) clean up the electoral rolls first, especially in Sabah.”

Citing concerns over illegal immigrants and questionable voters, he said automatic registration should only be implemented once the rolls are accepted as clean.

STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan (right) and Pensiangan MP Arthur Kurup at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

“Either the EC exempts Sabah from automatic registration for a period until the rolls are cleaned up, or a pre-qualification committee should be formed to scrutinise all 18-year-olds before they are automatically registered as voters,” he said.

“We do not want illegals to decide through the ballot box who will be the next prime minister or chief minister, or our elected leaders in legislative houses.

“Only rightful citizens can have such privileges and decide on the future of our nation.”

STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan agreed, proposing that the government set up a mechanism to detect and stop phantom voters.

“There is also a need to identity thieves and acknowledge this crime,” he told FMT.

“At this juncture, we demand that the National Registration Department clean up its lists as well and remove all those who obtained citizenship through dubious means, particularly Projek IC.”