With just over a month until Parliament is widely expected to be dissolved for the 13th General Election, overseas Malaysians are still in the dark about whether and how they will be able to vote by post as promised by the EC in the coming General Election. Just how the postal voting system will work is a mystery even to some Malaysian missions overseas (e.g. Singapore, Melbourne, Paris), and it was recently reported that the mission in Qatar had presented local Malaysians with a 30-minute window to register themselves. Another mission that has made up its own rules is Shanghai, where Malaysians there have not been able to apply to be ‘ordinary voters’ since the mission stopped taking registrations in July 2012, while others have found they have been registered as Postal Voters without their consent. Only one mission (London) has been able to tell us what they know about the proposed registration and voting process for postal voters. We have been told that overseas Malaysians will be required to have returned to Malaysia for at least 30 days within the past 5 years, and will be able to register using a new Form 1B that will be made available online and which can be processed within 7-10 working days. But the registration process cannot begin because the EC has yet to gazette the amended regulations for overseas postal voters.
The EC must answer for this shambles and get its house in order. The EC must release the amended Postal Voting Regulations immediately so that they can be scrutinised by stakeholders and so that Malaysian missions overseas and postal voting agents in each constituency can be properly briefed and trained. Given widespread distrust of the EC’s impartiality and ability to safeguard against fraud, overseas Malaysians need to know exactly what safeguards are being put in place before they register to vote by post in the upcoming General Elections. Having campaigned for over two years in order to gain the right to vote by post, MyOverseasVote undertakes to scrutinise the regulations as soon as they are gazetted and issue guidelines on minimising the risk of fraud.
A further issue of concern that is yet unresolved is whether the campaign period will be long enough to allow postal ballots to be received and returned to Malaysia. We believe that the current minimum of 10 days is insufficient for the postal voting system to work using normal postal services, though we understand that overseas voters will have the option of having their postal ballots sent and returned via diplomatic pouch through participating Malaysian missions (embassies, high commissions or consulates). It is still unclear which Malaysian missions will be voting centres and which will not, and whether these missions will put in place special measures for Malaysians to cast their votes after normal office hours, as many Malaysians will need to travel long distances in order to reach the nearest participating mission.
We continue to encourage overseas Malaysians, especially the 400,000 Malaysians working in Singapore, to return home to vote if they can afford the time and expense, though we are aware that for most Malaysians further afield this will not be possible. We also encourage returnees to join the Jom Pantau GE13 initiative by Bersih to monitor the conduct of the elections in Malaysia.
Until the new Regulations come into effect, the MOV6 appeal against the EC, currently scheduled for 28 February 2013, will continue as usual.
London, 11 January 2013