Analysts: Overseas Malaysians deserves reform of voting system before next GE

A voter marks her ballot paper at a polling center, Gelugor, Penang in this file picture taken on May 25, 2014. — Picture by KE Ooi
A voter marks her ballot paper at a polling center, Gelugor, Penang in this file picture taken on May 25, 2014. — Picture by KE Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Political analysts today said that there must be a much easier and efficient way for overseas Malaysians to cast their votes in the next general election.

Political analyst Wong Chin Huat said overseas Malaysian voters must be allowed their right to vote in the running of the democratic process as they too contribute to the country’s economy, technological transfer and investment.

He said the current system of ballot posting is so difficult that in the last general election, people had to rush to ensure they can send their ballot papers back to Malaysia in time.

“If you don’t want that (better overseas voting system), then maybe it is fair to say you don’t want their vote.

“Currently, the system does not stop you from voting but the process is so difficult that it feels like you don’t have the right to cast your votes,” he said at the “Do Overseas Malaysians Still Matter” webinar organised by Global Bersih today.

He said it was important that Malaysians overseas pressure politicians and the government to make changes for a better overseas voting system and assert their contribution to the country.

“You need to really argue your contribution to Malaysia and establish your legitimate role as a stakeholder.

“We need to pressure for an electoral system change. Form groups and assert your influence, otherwise, you can’t blame the politicians for ignoring you because that is politics,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil said overseas Malaysian diaspora now have a bigger role to play as a voice of conscience to a politically unstable country.

He referred to the ‘Sheraton Move’ political crisis in February which toppled the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government and the diaspora could be a voice to reflect the struggle of several sides to initiate reforms in the country.

“I feel the diaspora could play a very important role in terms of consciousness.

“To hear the diaspora speak or to be present also gives us an opportunity to reflect. I feel that is the role they can play,” he said.

Fahmi also said changes in Malaysia are sadly too dependent on the political will of the ruling coalition to pass necessary laws for these reforms to take place.

He said it is important for political and civil education to be instilled in Malaysians in order to have them be more involved in the political runnings of the country.

“There must be pressure from Malaysian society and even the Malaysian diaspora for such changes to take place.

“It is important for us not to lose hope. If we were to abandon the reform, it will set us back,” he said.

Global Bersih former chairman Colin Rajah said overseas Malaysian has always tried to contribute the best to the country through knowledge as well as experiencing other systems that could be used to better their own country.

However, he admitted that there are views on overseas Malaysian that they don’t care for political happenings in the country.

“If we look into the political development in Malaysia, it is stagnant.

“Why don’t we look and see how we can learn from other systems? I think it is one of the things overseas Malaysian could bring to the table.

“The second (thing) is knowledge and skills. You don’t know how much overseas Malaysian want to contribute their knowledge and skills to Malaysia.

“And the third thing is the global advocacy,” he said.

As of 2019, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the population of the Malaysian diaspora stands at 1,730,152.

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