Friday August 26, 2011
More Malaysians overseas can cast ballots with new EC plan
By YUEN MEIKENG
KUALA LUMPUR: More of the million-or-so Malaysians living abroad may get to vote in the next general election.
Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the body was in the midst of amending regulations to extend postal voting rights to Malaysians working overseas.
These would include workers such as journalists, nurses and flight attendants, he said, but added that travellers would not be eligible.
“We hope to be able to implement this before the general election,” he told a media briefing here yesterday.
A World Bank report stated that there were about one million Malaysians living and working overseas as of last year.
Abdul Aziz said existing laws only allowed full-time students, civil servants and their spouses residing overseas to cast postal ballots.
The EC head, however, said Malaysians living abroad must first register as voters.
“Those who haven't registered can do so at the Malaysian embassies in the countries they are in. After that, they can apply to the EC to be postal voters,” he said.
He said once they had registered as postal voters, the ballots would be given to them by the embassy concerned.
“After the ballots are returned to the embassy, they will be sent back to Malaysia,” he said, adding that the ballots must reach polling centres in Malaysia by 5pm on election day.
He said Malaysians overseas would vote according to the address in their identity cards.
Abdul Aziz also said the Attorney-General was studying the legality of using indelible ink or the biometric system, or both, in the general election.
“The EC's recommendation will be put forward this year. It will have to be passed in Parliament first before implementation,” he said, adding that trial runs for the biometric system had already been conducted.
On Bersih 2.0's demand that the EC provide a campaign period of not less than 21 days, Abdul Aziz said the body would have to study all aspects to ensure a reasonable and fair campaign period for all.
“Parliament will be automatically dissolved on April 28, 2013 if the Prime Minister does not do so before that,” Abdul Aziz said, adding that the general election must be held within 60 days after that.