MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih Call on Overseas Malaysians to Vote in the 13th General Election, and Press the EC to Allow Postal Voting Observers


MyOverseasVote has been campaigning since October 2010 for Malaysians residing outside Malaysia to be given the right to vote by post. In January 2013, the Election Commission (EC) announced that Malaysians residing overseas except in Singapore, southern Thailand (Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala, Songkhla and Satun), Kalimantan and Brunei would be allowed to apply to vote by post provided that they had been in Malaysia for at least 30 days in total during the previous five years.

MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih do not accept that the additional restrictions imposed by the EC are constitutional, fair or necessary. We are displeased that it has taken nearly one and a half years since the EC Chairman announced in August 2011 that overseas postal voting would be allowed for these regulations to be announced to the public. Nevertheless we welcome the fact that many overseas Malaysians will be able to vote by post in the upcoming 13th General Election (GE13), and we will work with the EC and Wisma Putra to improve the overseas postal voting system in the run-up to GE13.

Absent voters

Prior to January 2013, only full-time students, government servants and members of the armed forces and their respective spouses living overseas were allowed to register as absent voters and thus be entitled to vote by post. Absent voters are in effect permanent postal voters, and will not be able to vote in person in Malaysia until such time as they re-register as ordinary voters. If you are a registered absent voter, you will be able to vote by post even if you reside in Singapore, southern Thailand, etc.

Due to the closeness of the next general election, if you are not yet a registered absent voter, you should not register as an absent voter but should instead apply for a postal vote using Form 1B.

How to apply for a postal vote

Under the new EC scheme, overseas Malaysians who meet the qualifying criteria can apply to be postal voters for one general election. Please note that if you apply for a postal vote, you will not be able to vote in person in Malaysia.

MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih encourage Malaysians to return to vote in Malaysia if you can afford to do so, but if you cannot afford to return to vote, then we encourage you to apply for a postal vote.

In order to apply for a postal vote, you must first be a registered Malaysian voter. Any Malaysian citizen of or over the age of 21 can register at any computerised post office or Malaysian mission overseas (including embassies, consulates-general, high commissions, the Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre in Taipei and the Malaysian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva). You only need to register once in your lifetime; however, it takes between 3-6 months after you register for a new electoral roll to be gazetted. To check whether you are already registered as a voter, please enter your IC no. at Students and government servants who have registered as absent voters will be listed with “pemilih tak hadir” as their locality, and do not need to apply using Form 1B.

For those not listed as absent voters, you need to download Form 1B from the EC website at You must fill in the form and return it to the EC by fax, post or email. Instructions for filling out the form, together with sample completed forms and Frequently Asked Questions, are available on the EC website.

Your application for a postal vote must be received by the EC before Parliament or any State Legislative Assembly is dissolved.

Collecting your postal ballot

Overseas postal ballots are issued by the returning officer of each constituency in front of the political candidates’ agents, and are then sent by diplomatic pouch to the Malaysian mission overseas designated by the postal voter on his Form 1B. They must be collected and returned on the day notified by the mission in order for them to be returned to Malaysia by diplomatic pouch.

To collect your postal ballot, you must come in person and bring your NRIC or passport with you.

Please check with your local embassy, high commission or consulate closer to the day to find out what arrangements are in place for the collection of overseas postal ballots. If you collect your postal ballot on a different day from that which is promulgated, you will yourself be responsible for returning the postal ballot to the returning officer in Malaysia by 5 p.m. on polling day.

Exercising your postal ballot

If you apply to vote by post, you must collect your ballot paper in order to prevent it being used by another person.

Voters from the States (except Sarawak, whose State elections are usually held separately) should receive two postal ballots for Federal and State elections, while voters from the Federal Territories and Sarawak should receive a Federal postal ballot only.

To vote, you must check that the serial number on the ballot paper is the same as the number written on the Form 2 and the Envelope A, and then fill out and sign the declaration of identity (Form 2) in front of an embassy official or other Malaysian citizen.

You should then mark your ballot paper in secret, and then seal it in the Envelope A. The Form 2 and Envelope A should then be sealed in the Envelope B and returned to the embassy staff.

Minimising fraud

MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih believe that the risk that your postal ballot will be tampered with after it has been used is minimal given the safeguards already in place under the 2003 Postal Voting Regulations, and that any attempted mass tampering should be detectable by the parties’ counting agents.

We believe that the greater risk is that postal ballots will be issued improperly to phantom voters on the electoral roll or in the names of those known to be overseas who have not actually applied to vote by post, in order to dilute the votes of genuine overseas postal voters.

For this reason, we believe that the risk of fraud is greater if overseas voters do not vote (thereby allowing others to apply to vote in their name), and strongly recommend that overseas Malaysians apply for a postal vote, and collect and exercise their postal votes on the designated day, if they cannot afford to return to Malaysia to vote.

MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih call for all candidates to be given a list of postal voters in their constituencies at the end of nomination day, and for political parties to be given a nationwide list of overseas postal voters broken down by embassy, high commission or consulate.

We also call upon the EC and Wisma Putra to permit party agents from each political party to observe the collection and voting process within each Malaysian mission overseas. If the EC and Wisma Putra refuse to allow this, then we overseas Malaysians will set up observation booths outside the missions in order to monitor the overseas postal vote collection ourselves.

MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih are therefore calling for volunteers in all cities where Malaysian missions are located to be ready to observe the collection of postal ballots every day during the postal voting period. Observers will record the numbers of postal voters who turn up to collect postal ballots at every Malaysian mission, and will ask for and record postal voters’ IC numbers in order to determine the number of overseas postal votes cast in each constituency.

We call on the EC urgently to begin formal discussions with political parties and with civil society to develop and agree to implement procedures that will underpin a transparent postal voting process that meets universal standards of accountability. Any refusal by the EC to engage with stakeholders on this issue can only be viewed as unwillingness on the part of the Commission to oversee the coming election process in  an impartial and non-partisan manner.


MyOverseasVote, Bersih and Global Bersih will issue further statements on minimising fraud during the issuing and counting of postal ballots.

For now, we encourage all eligible Malaysians to return Malaysia to vote if they can afford to and if not, to apply to vote by post as soon as possible.

It is important that Malaysians overseas turn out in large numbers to vote, either in person or by post, in order to reduce the impact of any phantom voting.

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37 Responses to MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih Call on Overseas Malaysians to Vote in the 13th General Election, and Press the EC to Allow Postal Voting Observers

  1. pywong says:

    Very well drafted. A valid ballot paper must have an official stamp or perforation for it to be valid as per Borang 9 of the Conduct of Election Regulations.

  2. RC says:

    How would I know if the application for postal vote is successful?

  3. leelav says:

    This is a much needed step in the right direction. However, would appreciate some clarification … if I’m not already a registered voter, whereby registration with an embassy (if I do it now) might take 3-6 months, will I still be able to apply for a postal vote in time?

    • Leelav: That depends when the election is called.

    • pywong says:

      Registered as a voter will take effect by 21st Apr 2013. After that you can apply to be a postal voter. Whether you are in time or not depends on date of dissolution of Parliament. Who knows, you may make it just in time. In any case, prepare for GE 14.

  4. eY says:

    @ RC, you can check the status of the application here:

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  7. Kwang says:

    I am from Yong Peng, Johor and now residing in Frankfurt Germany. I am filling the form online now. I don’t know the first part of Bahagian pilihan raya. What should I fill?
    Bahagian B, question number 2, what parliament should I fill?

  8. Tan Zhen Ron says:

    Hi there, I am currently a Sabahan student studying in Aberdeen, UK. I have checked and have been granted the eligible voter status just recently. I filled in all the details for the Borang 1B. Yet, I did not register as an absent voter, will my Borang 1B be rejected? For confirmation, the email address to sent to is I hope to hear from you soon thanks.

    • You don’t need to register as an absent voter in order to get a postal vote using Form 1B. Form 1B is for one election only whereas Form A (absent voter) is for all future elections (until you re-register as an ordinary voter).

  9. Kah Ming Mok says:

    Hello, I am residing in Dresden Germany, what I concern is: once I register as postal voter for GE 13, and if I would go back to Malaysia someday in the future, could I still re-register as ordinary voter for the next election?

    @Kwang: nice to know another Malaysian in Germany.

  10. eY says:

    Can anyone advise how long does the application for postal voting takes to be approved? I’ve submitted mine on 24th Jan and it’s been 2 weeks but I’ve yet to receive any response.

    • Apparently you will only be informed after nomination day.

      • pywong says:

        This is a risky proposition. There is no reason for the EC not to inform the applicant within 1 week of receipt of application so that he has time to respond or appeal in the event of rejection. After nomination day, with the masses of names to be handled, it will be too late to rectify any oversight or omission on the part of the EC.

  11. Timing is everything says:

    It has been suggested that Malaysians overseas who have registered as postal voters should send their postal voting information to Bersih so that it can be tracked or checked. If this is true, then firstly thank you and Bersih for your incredible efforts. Secondly, can it be made known exactly what postal information should we provide and to which email address should we send the information to.

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  13. Didn’t realise if I haven’t registered to vote back home in Malaysia that ‘Borang 1B’ is not useful. Staring at question 2 in section B of the form tells me that…

    I can still register to vote at the Consular’s Office at Malaysian High Commission in London. Followed by Borang 1B once I’m on the electoral register. However they can’t indicate how long will the application take!

    I’m feeling a little gutted thinking I’ll miss this opportunity if it’ll take a long time to process the application 😦

    Apparently I’ll need my passport + VISA + I.D. to obtain a form to register to vote at the Consular’s Office. And they only deal with such applications from 9am-12noon. I’m tied up at work for the next 3 working days… that adds to my disappointment that I’ve been delayed.

    If only they have an online voter’s application!

    • Unfortunately the voter registrations are only processed quarterly, so it is unlikely you will be able to vote at this elections if you are not already registered.

      • Py Wong says:

        No matter what, register. It will be helpful for by-elections.


        On Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 9:48 AM, MyOverseasVote wrote:

        > ** > MyOverseasVote commented: “Unfortunately the voter registrations are > only processed quarterly, so it is unlikely you will be able to vote at > this elections if you are not already registered.” >

  14. Elsie says:

    I am concerned about my status as a registered overseas voter. I submitted my form just after CNY. A check on the SPR page should show that you are an absentee voter by saying “Pemilih Tak Hadir” on the locality. Mine still shows the locality as SS5D (my constituency at home).

    I spoke consulted a friend who informed me that it took his friend 7 months to change the status (submitted the form in August, status changed to “in process” in Jan 2013, and then status changed to “Pemilih Tak Hadir” in March 2013). Apparently, this is because EC registers on a quarterly basis, and the cut off date for the first quarter of this year was 15 March.

    I’m quite surprised to hear this, as SPR announced that the registration was opened until dissolution of parliament. However, if it takes that long for the registration to be processed, this doesn’t mean that the submission of our forms guarantees us the right to vote overseas. I am also quite concerned as other than checking on SPR, I have no way to tell if my form has been processed.

    • Absent voters (pemilih tak hadir) are restricted to students and civil servants, and that is done quarterly using Form A. If you applied using Form 1B, you will be a postal voter (pengundi pos). If you haven’t been rejected yet, that means they are waiting for the returning officers to be appointed, as they are the only persons who can approve your application. Once that is done you will be informed.

      • Elsie says:

        That is a relief, I just assumed my friend’s friend was working oversees like . Will be on the lookout for any reply from them.

  15. BF says:

    Is it true that I can still fill in the borang 1b and email by tonight to be the absent voter? I went to the consulate two months ago and my name is now registered in SPR. I couldn’t register as absent voter directly because I am not a student.

  16. BF says:

    The decision from Najib comes so late. I already have a work trip coming up. If i end up out of town during the designated voting date, isn’t that a bad idea to have a postal vote paper lying around? Should i go ahead and shouldn’t make an effort to email in the borang 1b the last minute?

  17. Lim says:

    Oh no…I just realised from news just now about the Pengundi Pos & already closed yesterday 😦
    However, I am working & residing in Singapore, anyway I am not entitle to apply as Pengundi Pos, right? But my husband is working & residing in Shanghai, he missed the chance though…

  18. CK Lim says:

    Can anyone who had voted from overseas before comment how the process would be like?

    On Feb 2013, I had registered via email (with Borang 1B) and got a reply of my application being received and “in process”. According to what I read here, once the nomination is out, an officer appointed would send us the postal vote (undi pos). My question is, what are the actual procedures of receiving and sending the vote back? I searched thru the SPR website but can’t find a detailed info.

    FYI, I am now in Australia, have voted back in Malaysia on PR11. This is my first time being an overseas voter, so would like to make sure I do it right.

    Thanks in adv!

  19. Chris says:

    Cant even find the Borang 1B on SPR. anyone can help provide a link?

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