Malaysian opposition says phantom voters still haunt electoral roll
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Malaysian opposition says phantom voters still haunt electoral roll

PHANTOM voters have long been a bone of contention in Malaysian politics and now the opposition claims to have more evidence of the fraudulent practice that threatens to mar the upcoming elections.

With the polls expected sometime before the end of August this year, the People’s Justice Party (PKR), a major component of the opposition Pakatan Harapan bloc, has pointed to one of the country’s largest parliamentary constituencies as an example of the alleged widespread problem.

In Wangsa Maju, a major township in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur which is home to over 79,000 voters, the party alleges a total of 1,429 dubious registrations. Almost all of the names, it found, were of people who had falsely disclosed their home addresses.

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PKR Vice-President Nurul Izzah Anwar said the party has raised the matter with the country’s Election Commission who has yet to take any action.

She said the party had also lodged four police reports on the matter between August and November last year but the complaints had apparently fallen on deaf ears.

“We believe that ordinary policemen are very professional and they want to do their jobs accordingly but there are definitely hidden hands that are blocking them from objective prosecution and necessarily investigation,” she told a press conference at the party headquarters on Thursday.

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The yellow-clad participants of Bersih 5 carrying banners and placards during their march calling for free & fair elections in Kuala Lumpur. Source: Reuters

“(The investigation) is quite important as if politics factors in the decision making of the investigations, you are not going to get anywhere to establish a proper rule of law.”

During the last elections in 2013, the Opposition said at least 40,000 phantom voters had cast their ballots in polling stations, a claim which the ruling Barisan Nasional government refuted.

Nurul Izzah, the parliamentarian for Lembah Pantai and daughter of the country’s imprisoned defacto opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, added the issue affects the sanctity of the elections and raises fears of foreigners being used as phantom voters as the system was open to abuse.

The party veep also suggested the EC allow observers from Commonwealth countries to monitor the elections during the polling period.

PKR treasurer Dr Tan Yee Kew said the party was disappointed with police who she claims recorded only one statement from a party investigator in November. Since then, she said the authorities have yet to provide any news or show any development of the investigation.

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Women walk past a portrait of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak during the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) general assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia December 7, 2017. Source: Reuters/Lai Seng Sin

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Dr Tan pointed out that giving false information to the EC for was an offence under Section 177 of the country’s penal code.

An earlier report on an online portal quoted Wangsa Maju Police district police chief Mohammad Roy Suhaimi Sarif as saying that the reports were forwarded to the EC.

“We find the answer unacceptable,” Dr Tan said. “(The) EC may have the power to penalise someone for giving false information but if a crime is committed under the Penal Code, it is the duty of the police to investigate.”

Dr Tan also said the Opposition party will file a complaint with the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) if the police do not provide a “satisfactory” answer within one week.