Bersih 2.0 claims more soldiers shifted as voters to unbuilt camps

Bersih 2.0 co-chairman Maria Chin Abdullah says that the EC had actually set up localities for these new camps. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Bersih 2.0 co-chairman Maria Chin Abdullah says that the EC had actually set up localities for these new camps. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

PETALING JAYA, Nov 7 ― More military personnel and their spouses have been transferred as voters to yet-to-be-built camps in several locations in peninsular Malaysia, Bersih 2.0 claimed today.

The elections watchdog said its investigations found the Election Commission (EC) had made voter transfers to locations in at least two states other than one it had previously highlighted in Segamat, Johor ― including to one in the constituency of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

According to Bersih 2.0, up to 2,700 persons to the Bera Camp in Pahang and Hutan Melintang Camp in Perak, both of which are still under construction.

The group alleged that the transfers were politically motivated, pointing to the EC’s set-up of new localities to register voters from the camps.

“The EC had actually set up localities for these new camps,” the group's co-chairman, Maria Chin Abdullah, told a press conference here.

“This means the EC was very much aware of what it's doing,” she added.

Each camps are based in seats where top Barisan Nasional leaders won with thin majorities.

Segamat was won by MIC president Datuk Seri S Subramaniam with a 1,217 majority.

The new Bera Camp is in the Bera parliamentary seat where federal minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob won with a 2,143-vote majority, while the new Hutan Melintang Camp is in the Bagan Datuk parliamentary seat where Ahmad Zahid won with a 2,108-voter majority.

Bersih alleged up to 1,234 military personnel and their spouses were transferred to the Bera Camp and 1,411 were transferred to the camp in Bagan Datuk.

“It’s for no other purpose than to give the ministers a more confident win,” Bersih 2.0 steering committee member, Rama Ramanathan, said at the same press conference.

The EC has been accused by Bersih 2.0 of acting illegally and in direct violation of the Federal Constitution by knowingly making the transfers of voters to unregistered locations.

The poll watchdog has called on the police to investigate the matter as a criminal case, claiming the regulator had breached Section 3(a) of the Election Offences Act 1954, which deals with false applications for transfers of addresses on the electoral rolls.

In the meantime, Opposition parties PKR and DAP have filed objections to the transfers with the EC in Bera and Segamat, but both expressed scepticism that the protest would yield positive results.

Tan Hong Pin, the DAP state assemblyman for Mengkibol, Johor, said they have filed 1,051 objections against the transfers in Segamat. However, only five voters had filed five objections against the transfers in Bera.

Manolan Mohamad, former PKR candidate for Kemayan, one of the state seats in Bera, claimed “unfair” EC laws have put off voters in the area from objecting.

Each objection costs an applicant RM10 but RM200 in penalty if the EC find the application flawed. 

“When we filed the objections the EC official warned us that we would have to pay RM200 if our objections are rejected,” Manolan told the press conference.

“It’s a law that’s very anti-objectors... as if they are trying to tell us not to object,” he added.

The DAP on the other hand had managed to collect up to RM10,000 to help finance the process. But Tan was aware that the money could just disappear if the EC rejects all the applications.

“One of our worries is that they only need a Certificate of Posting to show that the voters do indeed stay there,” the Mengkibol representative alleged.

“We fear that Mindef (Ministry of Defence) can easily issue the letter”.

Under election laws, a voter can only register to vote in a seat where he or she is a resident.

So far the EC has not responded to any of the allegations. Minister of Defence Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, on the other hand, has called the transfers absurd, but has not indicated if Mindef would look into the matter.

Bersih 2.0 said today voters must continue to remain vigilant and help expose any irregularities.