MP SPEAKS On Nov 19, in a special meeting with over 40 members of parliament, the Election Commission (EC) promised that it would submit to Parliament the necessary changes on the regulations for Malaysians overseas to be registered as voters so that these changes can be gazetted and implemented.

NONEYesterday, the last day of the final parliamentary sitting for this year and possibly the last sitting before the next general election, the EC has once again failed to deliver on its promise because no amendment to the election registration laws has been tabled in Parliament.

The EC has, time and time again, promised to take the necessary steps to ensure that Malaysians overseas would be allowed to register in time to vote for the next general election, which has to be held by the end of June 2013.

This is one of the eight demands of Bersih. This is also one of the recommendations in the Preliminary Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform. [1] The EC has also agreed to this recommendation in principle. [2]

The only caveats given by the EC with regard to Malaysian overseas being registered as voters was that they would have to vote via postal ballots rather than going to the various Malaysian embassies and high commissions and that they would have to return to Malaysia once every five years in order to be eligible to be overseas voters.

No amendments tabled

The failure of the EC to table any amendments pertaining to the eligibility of Malaysian overseas to vote shows that the Malaysian government is not sincere about wanting to have a clean, fair and transparent elections.

Nor is it sincere in wanting to adopt the recommendations of the PSC on Electoral Reform including those which have been agreed upon by the EC such as allowing Malaysians overseas to vote.

This throws into doubt the sincerity of the Malaysian government in wanting to carry out the other recommendations made by the PSC on Electoral Reform, including the cleaning up of the electoral roll.

azlanIf Malaysians overseas are not given the right to register as overseas voters by the end of the year, it is likely that they will not be able to vote in the next general election since the gazetting of the electoral roll only takes place once every three months.

In addition, as long as Wisma Putra does not give explicit instructions to register Malaysian overseas as voters, a late decision to allow them to register would likely be met with a poor response.

The inconsistent responses by Malaysian embassies and high commissions pertaining to the registration of Malaysian students overseas has already been highlighted by MyOverseasVote, an organisation which is advocating for the right for Malaysians overseas to vote.

This shows that the EC, in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, needs to take action immediately to ensure that Malaysian overseas can register in time to vote in the next election.

Still not too late for EC

Although the final parliamentary session for 2012 has concluded, it is still not too late for the EC to take the necessary steps to allow Malaysians overseas to register as absent voters.

Section 16 2(n) of the Elections Act 1958 already allows the Election Commission to "prescribe the facilities to be provided for voting by post and the persons entitled to vote by post".

NONESection 3 1(f) of the Elections (Postal Voting) Regulations 2003 states that "a member of any category of persons designated as postal voters by the Election Commission from time to time by notification in the Gazette" is entitled to be vote as postal voters.

The EC already has the power to designate Malaysians overseas to be eligible for postal voting under the current elections regulations.

We call on the EC to exercise this power by making a public announcement that all Malaysian overseas are eligible to be registered as postal voters.

We also all on the Malaysian government to ensure that the Wisma Putra give its fullest cooperation to the EC to register Malaysians who are currently living and/or working overseas to be postal voters so that they can vote in the next general election.

The failure to do so would once again demonstrate that this government is not sincere about conducting a clean, fair and transparent 13th general election.

[1] The exact recommendation was "Meluaskan kategori pengundi tidak hadir luar negara kepada semua warganegara Malaysia yang layak".

[2] In a media statement in April 2012, the EC stated that "SPR telah meneliti syor tersebut dan bersetuju untuk memberikan kemudahan kepada rakyat Malaysia di luar negara yang berdaftar sebagai pemilih untuk mengundi secara pos."