KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — A few Chinese Malaysians have complained that they encountered objections against their registration as voters ahead of the next general election.
Such objections meant that they would have to attend Election Commission (EC) interviews at its office to prove that they are legal and eligible voters, failing which their registration as voters would be cancelled.
Elaine Lee, who posted a photo of several Chinese Malaysians flocking the EC office in Shah Alam on her Facebook page, said she had accompanied her 26-year-old boyfriend to the EC’s office after he received a letter that said his application to be a voter had been rejected.
Lee claimed that the office at the PKNS building was packed with both Malays and Chinese people when they arrived at about 11.15am Monday.
“But the Malays were there as the ‘pembantah’ (objectors) to the cases they filed against the ethnic Chinese,” she told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
Lee said her boyfriend received a letter about two weeks ago saying that someone had objected to his registration to become a voter at the Petaling Jaya Selatan parliamentary and Taman Medan state seats.
“The reason stated by the person who objected to my boyfriend’s application was that (he was a) ‘pemilih diragui’ (suspicious voter), which I find it to be very ridiculous because that was the only thing mentioned,” she said.
She said they had to wait for about three hours to meet the EC officer for not more than five minutes to approve her boyfriend’s registration.
Lee said she was also unsure of the objector’s whereabouts, further alleging that each objector had objected to multiple voters’ registrations.
She, however, added that most of the voters’ registrations were approved after the EC officers found insufficient evidence for the claims made by those who rejected the applications.
Lee said neither she nor her boyfriend questioned the person who objected to his application.
“I was so angry about [the incident] so I decided to share this on Facebook. I know a lot of people are getting objected,” she said.
When contacted, Bersih 2.0 head Maria Chin Abdullah said her electoral reform group has received many such complaints.
“But I don’t think one can conclusively say the Malays objected the Chinese maybe that day, there were more Chinese applicants,” Maria said.
When asked if these applicants come from federal Opposition-held areas, she said complaints Bersih received came nationwide and were not limited to any particular constituency.
Aside from the EC, applicants can register as voters at the post office, district offices and the Department of Special Affairs.
Maria criticised the EC and the government for failing to tackle the issue.
If or when there is an objection, Maria said the EC should cross-check with the National Registration Department before calling up the applicant.
“If the applicant is applying in say Selangor, but currently is in Johor, it is unfair to ask him or her to come down on a particular date to be physically present,” she said.
She explained that if the applicant fails to show up on the date set by the EC, his or her registration as a voter will be cancelled.
To make an objection, Maria said the objector will have to fork out RM100 for each objection form.
Malay Mail Online’s efforts to reach the EC chairman on the matter proved futile.
Separately, Maria said voter registrations have been “slow” and accused the EC of not meeting its target.
“There is a backlog of four million voters in the country, which means the EC will have to register about 150,000 new voters every quarter,” she said.
With the current system used to register voters, Maria said the backlog of voters will remain, pointing that there were between one and two million unregistered voters last year.
After 2013, political parties were no longer allowed to assist the EC to register new voters.