AN independent poll watchdog is alleging fraud by the country’s Election Commission (EC) after further investigations reveal more army personnel have been registered as voters in military bases that have yet to be completely built.
Bersih 2.0, a coalition for free and fair elections, claims that the EC is fully aware of this illegal transfer of army personnel voters to the incomplete army bases, which are all located at seats where the ruling Barisan Nasional leaders had won with only thin majorities in the previous general election.
“The EC had actually set up localities for these new camps,” Bersih 2.0’s co-chairman Maria Chin Abdullah, told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today. “This means the EC was very much aware of what it’s doing.”
The coalition said the EC had failed to check whether these army bases are valid locations to register voters in as provided for under Regulation 13 of the Election (Voter Registration) Rules 2002. The EC has yet to respond to these allegations.
Last week, opposition party the Democratic Action Party (DAP) had called for the 1,051 military personnel and their spouses – who have been revealed to be registered voters at an incomplete camp in the Segamat constituency in Johor – to be removed.
Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has denied this claim, saying it makes “no sense” to transfer servicemen and their spouses there without preparing housing for them as those sent there will not vote for the ruling party then.
Malaysia’s 14th general elections are due to be held by August 2018, but can be called earlier.
An opposition state assemblyman today showed photos of a construction notice board which had shown the army base in Segamat would only be complete by April 2018. Recent photos taken at the construction site show the said board has been removed.
Following this, the coalition’s further investigation had revealed that 1,234 and 1,411 army voters have been transferred to as yet-to-be-built army bases at Bera and Hutan Melintang respectively. Both parliamentary seats were won by Barisan Nasional ministers with a slim majority of around 2,000 votes in the 13th general election.
“This is politically motivated and done to influence election results by postal or early voting,” Bersih 2.0 deputy chairperson Shahrul Aman said.
Under Malaysian law, a person can only be registered as a voter if he is at least 21 years of age and residing in the constituency. Bersih 2.o deems the incomplete army bases as insufficient to qualify as a form of “residence” and as such, the transfer of army voters and their spouses there an “electoral offence” as per Section 3(A) of the Electoral Offences Act 1954, which should be investigated by the police and the Attorney-General’s office.
The coalition also called for the immediate resignation of the EC head, an explanation for these transfers by the EC and the Defence Ministry, as well as for the transfers to be cancelled before the voter registry is gazetted.