PBS says against automatic registration of new voters in Sabah due to ‘invalid’ votes

Tan Hat Tiong, 50, and his wife Ainawait Saari, 66, show their fingers after casting their votes in today’s by-election in Sandakan at Sekolah Kebangsaan Tanjung Papat 1 and 2 May 11, 2019. — Bernama pic
Tan Hat Tiong, 50, and his wife Ainawait Saari, 66, show their fingers after casting their votes in today’s by-election in Sandakan at Sekolah Kebangsaan Tanjung Papat 1 and 2 May 11, 2019. — Bernama pic

KOTA KINABALU, July 11 — Parti Bersatu Sabah is not in favour of the automatic registration of new voters, said its president Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili.

The Kota Marudu MP said that the move would further mar the electoral rolls in Sabah, already tainted with invalid voters.

“The situation is different between east and west Malaysia. In Sabah, it is an open secret that there is large presence of illegal immigrants, and their numbers could easily fetch to over one million, of whom thousands are suspected to have become voters.

“Many of these illegal foreigners are suspected to be holders of faked Identity Cards (ICs), or ICs illegally given, or dubious birth certificates,” he said in a statement here today.

Ongkili pointed out that if children of these dubious voters were allowed automatically to become voters upon reaching the age of 18, he stressed that the tainting of the electoral roll would be inevitable.

“If this is allowed, then for Sabah, foreigners will determine the formation of both the national and Sabah governments.

“PBS believe that this is not only serious, but exposing our country and state to political disaster. We insist that new voters must register and prove their qualifications as a voter. It cannot be automatic,” he said.

He added that that automatic registration would not guarantee an increase in voter turnout, unless balloting is made compulsory as seen in the many countries that practise automatic registration.

He added that PBS supports the proposal to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18 years.

“But more efforts should be directed to conducting education and awareness programmes to young people on why they should practice their rights to vote and participate in the political process. Not by forcing young people to register as voters through legal compulsion.

“Hence, PBS objects automatic voter registration. It’s a wrong priority and exposing Sabah to the rule of illegal foreigners,” he said.

The proposed constitutional amendment was tabled for first reading today by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman and is expected to be debated and voted on next week.

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