59,000 foreigners ‘registered as voters’
Tarani Palani | April 23, 2012

A political scientist has shed light on more irregularities in the electoral roll and wants to know why the EC has done little to tackle the problem.

KUALA LUMPUR: Some 59,000 foreigners have been registered as voters in Malaysia due to “gaps” in their details, according to the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP).

MERAP project director Ong Kian Meng said there were “gaps” in their registration details and this has raised suspicion over their status as voters.

He said this today while speaking of his finding at a Bersih-held press conference.

“If you are a Malaysian born abroad, you will have a code ’71′ in your IC. If you don’t have a ’71′, that means you are a foreign-descent born in Malaysia,” he said.

He added that the presence of 59,000 voters raises suspicion as their IC numbers did not contain the “71″ code but they were too old to be born in Malaysia. The 59,000 suspicious voters were among 65,455 foreigners in the electoral roll.

“These voters were born before the 1980s but they don’t have the old IC numbers,” he said.

Adding to the suspicion, Ong said that in the Kudat constituency in Sabah, these foreigners did not have any addresses attached to them.

These data was collected from the electoral roll as at December last year.

“What is more troubling is the fact that 49,000 of these ‘foreign’ voters can be found in Sabah, where problems with foreigners being given fake ICs have long been documented,” he said.

Is there an alternative purpose?

Ong (picture, right) said that this information was obtained from the “race of the voter” category in the Election Commission’s (EC) list.

He said he obtained this detailed list from his sources as the usual voter roll for the public did not contain this category.

He pointed out that there were 65,455 foreigners in the roll including descendants from the Philippines, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Spain, Malta and Slovakia.

Admitting that these cases may be genuine Malaysian voters who are foreigners, Ong said: “I am not saying that there is something wrong with all these voters, but why would the EC be tracking the race of these voters comprehensively? Are they being tracked for an alternative purpose?”

Ong also highlighted cases where names were deleted or added to the voter list without the knowledge of voters.

Analysing both the 2008 and 2010 electoral rolls and cross-referencing with the December 2011 roll, he said that his team had found about 110,000 names which were either deleted or added to the roll without display.

He said that 106,743 names were deleted and 6,762 new ones were added.

“There is a category which indicates why your name is removed or added. For example, if you have passed away, or are now a qualified postal voter.

“But for these names, there were no reasons stated [for deletion or addition],” he said.

EC downplaying cases

Ong also cited the case of 3.1 million non-residential voters, saying the voting constituency of the voters did not correspond with the voters’ IC address.

This is an offence under Article 119 1 (b) of the Federal Constitution, which states that a voter must be a resident in the constituency which he or she is voting in. The law came to effect in 2002.

However, Ong said the EC has a loose interpretation of this law.

He said that this must be cleared; otherwise, the non-residential voters may be registered as phantom voters.

He said that a comprehensive study was conducted by the National Registration Department (NRD) over this matter 10 years ago and the results were given to the EC.

A sampling of about 200 of that data shows that these cases still persist, according to Ong.

“The point is that the EC has all these comprehensive data; so why is it not tackling these problems?

“It raises suspicion that this [problem of irregularities] is larger than what the EC makes it out to be,” he said.