• The Election Commission (EC) should issue detailed guidelines for overseas voting as soon as possible

    Media Statement on Overseas Voting after SPR Meeting with Political Parties on the 7th of March, 2013

    In a briefing to political parties on the 7th of March, 2013, the Chairman of the Election Commission (EC), Tan Sri Abdul Aziz, and the Deputy Chairman, Datuk Wan Ahmad, announced a few matters pertaining to overseas postal voting. We welcome these announcements, especially the decision by the Election Commission to allow political parties to appoint election agents and observers not only at the Malaysian embassies, high commissions and consulates (embassies, hereafter) around the world but also when these overseas postal ballots are issued in Putrajaya before they are sent overseas and when they are collected in Putrajaya after they are sent back.

    The Election Commission also announced that they will be sending out a detailed guidebook (buku panduan) to all the embassies to set out exactly the procedures and processes associated with overseas postal voting so that these can be implemented uniformly throughout the Malaysian embassies worldwide. The Election Commission also promised that they would issue detailed guidelines for voters as well as for political parties on the process and procedures relating to overseas postal voting which are relevant to both of these groups.

    We strongly urge the Election Commission to provide the following details in these guidelines:

    1. Steps to notify those who have applied to be overseas postal voters whether their application has been approved or not. The EC stated that only those whose application has been rejected (mostly because they are not yet registered voters) will be informed immediately. For the rest, the EC stated that only the Returning Officer in the respective constituencies (where these overseas voters are registered) can approve the application to be an overseas postal ballot. The EC promised to name these Returning Officers early, before the dissolution of parliament, so that these applications can be processed as soon as possible and the duly voters informed.

    2. Instructions to political parties on the process of appointing and approving election agents at the embassies and also to monitor the issuing and collection of overseas postal voters in Putrajaya. To reiterate, the EC announced today that election agents representing political parties at the embassies can be appointed to monitor the casting of votes in the embassies. Furthermore, the EC announced today that representatives of political parties will be allowed to monitor the issuance of overseas postal ballots in Putrajaya which would include the issuance of the equivalent of a Borang 13 which confirms the number of ballots issued and sent to the various embassies overseas.

    3. Confirmation of when the overseas postal ballots will be issued and sent and when the overseas voters can collect and cast their ballots at the embassies. We urge the EC to consider extending the opening hours of the embassies on the designated polling day for the embassies in order to allow voters who have to travel long distances in certain countries such as the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom to cast their votes at the embassies.

    4. Clarification to the overseas postal voters that they can choose to send their ballots, which come together with self-addressed envelopes to the Returning Officer in their constituency, through private channels including express mail and even arranging for the ballot to be personally delivered to the Returning Officer by 5pm on polling day. Allowing this option would mean that those voters who fear that their ballot may be compromised can send their ballot directly to the Returning Officer rather than having the ballot go through the Diplomatic Dispatch from the various embassies.

    5. Clarification that for those overseas postal voters who cannot collect their ballots at the embassies, that these ballots will be mailed to them directly instead.

    6. Confirmation that the absent voters (Pengundi Tidak Hadir) will also have the option of collecting and casting their ballot at the embassies or have the ballots sent directly to them.

    7. Clarification that overseas observers from appointed NGOs can also be appointed. The EC indicated that this was the case in response to one of my questions during the Q&A session. We hope that this can be confirmed and that the proper guidelines can be issued as to who are the NGOs which are allowed to appoint overseas observers and how these overseas observers are to be appointed.

    Providing the right for Malaysians overseas to cast a vote is long overdue. We hope that the EC will do what is necessary so that all Malaysians overseas who are already registered voter can be given the proper information in a timely fashion and that proper procedures can be put in place so that the secrecy of the overseas ballots can be guaranteed.

    Anthony Loke Siew Fook, DAP National Organizing Secretary

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

  • Director-General of JASA Dato’ Fuad Hassan should be sacked for being BN’s chief propagandist

    Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 30th January 2013

    That the Barisan Nasional (BN) government abuses state resources for its own political programmes and propaganda is no longer surprising to most Malaysians. That a former two-term UMNO state assemblyman, Dato’ Fuad Hassan, would be appointed, in 2009, as the Director General of the Department of Special Affairs or Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas (JASA) under the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture, is also no longer surprising.

    JASA is nothing more than a taxpayers-funded propaganda arm of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, costing the public a wasteful RM23 million as it has been allocated in the 2013 budget. The widely reported recent statement by Fuad Hassan at the Johor Social Media Partner gathering where he answered, “God willing… BN could obtain a two-third victory in the upcoming general election if we continue to work hard and strive to achieve what was targeted”[1] clearly shows the political bias as well as the political objectives of this senior civil servant. In April 2012, Fuad Hassan was also reported as saying that JASA, in cooperation with other government agencies such as KEMAS, works in order to strengthen the BN coalition for the general election.[2]

    In fact, JASA makes no attempt to even hide its political objectives and bias. According to its website, JASA’s motto is “Memimpin Pendapat Rakyat (Leading Public Opinions) ke arah menyokong Kerajaan melalui gagasan 1 Malaysia.”[3] JASA’s mission clearly degrades the professionalism and integrity of civil servants, the majority of whom want to serve the people without having to involve themselves in the work of defending the record of the BN government and using underhanded tactics to attack the opposition. I am sure that most of the 1,300 civil servants who currently work in JASA would be glad to serve the people of Malaysia in other capacities in other ministries or departments.[4]

    Even the activities organized by JASA to increase support for the Gagasan 1 Malaysia concept have resulted in spectacular failures and done more harm than good to societal harmony. In a Rapat 1 Malaysia gathering organized by JASA in Feb 2010[5] (which featured a former UMNO ADUN, Datuk Hj Zainal bin Hj Sakom and lecturer and columnist Dr. Ridhuan Tee) the keynote speaker, Dato’ Nasir Safar, then special officer to Prime Minister Najib, was reported to have said that ‘Indians are beggars’ and ‘Chinese, especially the women, came to Malaysia to sell their bodies’.[6]

    Finally and most troubling is our discovery that JASA has most likely been embarking on an aggressive voter registration exercise nationwide to place phantom voters on the electoral roll, including voters who are not born in Malaysia who are registered in urban areas without house addresses and street names such as Kampung Melayu Majidee in Johor Baru, Kampung Sri Gombak Indah in Gombak and Kampung Baharu Ampang in Ampang.[7]

    As part of the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP), my team and I have found thousands of such cases – voters not born in Malaysia registered in urban areas without house numbers and street names by a government agency – who were likely registered by JASA and KEMAS.[8] That the BN government is attempting to duplicate its Project IC efforts through agencies like JASA and KEMAS, in cahoots with the Election Commission (EC) and the National Registration Department (NRD), should not be surprising in light of the recent evidence given by former civil servants in the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah.

    It is likely that Azrul Azwar, chief economist of Bank Islam, was suspended on the basis that he gave a favorable scenario for Pakatan Rakyat to win the next general election in a forum organized by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore. Azrul was giving his professional argument that was backed up by comparisons in the increase in the number and percentage of new voters since the 2008 general elections. If Azrul, who is not even a civil servant, was suspended for giving his professional opinion as an economist, then Fuad Hassan should be sacked from the ranks of the civil service for his overt role as Chief propagandist for the BN, which is clearly demonstrated by the events and activities JASA organizes, the speakers which JASA invites to its events and the materials which JASA prints and distributes.

    Furthermore, Fuad Hassan should be investigated for his possible role in giving illegal immigrants ICs and registering them as voters. This action is far more dangerous and threatening to the security of the country than anything which Azrul Azwar had done in his capacity as Chief Economist in Bank Islam.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

  • 呼吁选举委员会取消马来西亚海外公民必须在过去五年回马至少30天方能有资格成为海外邮寄选民的条件,并重新检视海外邮寄选民的投票程序。

    民主行动党全国组织秘书兼亚沙国会议员陆兆福与选举策略员王建民于2013年1月25日在吉隆坡发表的联合文告:

    2013年1月21日,选举委员会公布马来西亚海外选民申请成为第13届全国大选海外邮寄选民的条件与程序。

    国会遴选委员会早在2011年12月1日提呈的初步报告就已提出此项建议,但选举委员会耗时14个月才真正执行,我们对此深感失望。目前,选举委员会尚有两个月时间登记所有旅居海外的马来西亚选民。尽管选委会已经做出如是宣布,但因为不必要的拖延,许多马来西亚海外公民依然会因此而丧失应有的公民权利。在这段期间,选举委员会和外交部并没有采取任何行动,鼓励马来西亚海外公民在马来西亚驻外大使馆或办事处登记成为普通选民。此举意味着,成千上万旅外马来西亚公民因为没有登记成为普通选民,因此无法申请成为合格的海外邮寄选民。

    尤有甚者,选委会还设下条件,要求所有申请成为邮寄选民的旅外国人,必须在过去5年至少回国30天,我们对此限制非常失望。选举改革国会遴选委员同意,旅外选民必须在过去5年回国一次,但他们没有设下任何逗留期限。我们是因为考虑到,大部分旅外公民通常只回国度假约一至三周。更何况,设下这条件之后,选委会还必须向移民厅查核相关申请者是否符合资格,此举势必让选委会耗费更长时间批准邮寄选民的申请,增加负担。我们认为,这项30天限制不公平也不合理,此项条件有违当初鼓励更多海外公民行使宪赋投票权的精神。因此,我们促请选委会立即取消上述条件,允许在过去5年曾经回马一次,且不论逗留期限的旅外公民成为合格海外邮寄选民。

    与此同时,我们也在此呼吁选委会重新检讨海外邮寄选民的投票程序。第一,我们要求选委会设下三天时间,让海外邮寄选民能够前往相关大使馆或代表处索取选票并划票,而非只有一天时间。此举让海外选民可以有数天时间前往使馆领取选票、划票,减少使馆发生选民人满为患大排长龙的情况,尤其是在马来西亚旅外公民社群庞大的都会,如如伦敦、纽约和坎培拉。

    第二,我们要求选委会允许各党派驻监票员驻守相关使馆,监察索票、划票和递送选票回布城选委会总部的过程,同时允许各党代表驻守在布城选委会总部以监视选票分寄至各个选区的程序。我们并非要求所有222个国会议席与505个州议席的候选人各自委派监票员,我们只是要求,允许各个政党委派一名代表,意即总人数可能少於10人的监票员代表团,驻守相关使馆。由於许多海外邮寄选民都是第一次透过邮寄方式履行他们的公民权利,此举就是为了确保他们的选票不会受到任何影响,也确保最终寄送回大马各自投票站的海外邮寄选票,是他们当初在大使馆内划上属意政党的选票。

    第三,我们要求选委会承诺,将在提名日当天把所有获批准的海外邮寄选民名册交到各区候选人手上;以确保候选人能够准确知道,他们的选区内有多少获得选委会批准通过海外邮寄投票的选民,同时也确保,提名日之後,不会再突然出现更多海外邮寄选民的名字。

    第四,有鉴于整个海外邮寄选票过程冗长,从印刷和递送海外选票、到选民前往相关使馆投票、选票寄回选委会布城总部、又从布城分寄至各个选区,可能耗时长达两周。有鉴於此,我们要求选委会允许至少21天竞选期,而这也符合净选盟八大诉求其中一项。过去,许多海外学生或驻外公务员的邮寄选票失效,一是他们太晚拿到选票,再来则无法在指定计票时间内抵达计票中心。为了避免马来西亚海外选民的权利被剥夺,我们要求选委会提供至少21天的竞选期。

    我们已经引颈长盼选委会此项宣布已久。如果选委会真的有诚意方便马来西亚海外选民,则当局就应该废除在过去5年至少逗留我国30天这项条件,并重新检讨海外邮寄选民的投票程序,让全体马来西亚海外公民和政党,都能安心,不必担忧海外邮寄选票的秘密性与安全受到影响。

    陆兆福

    王建民博士

  • Call for the EC to remove the 30-day requirement for Malaysians overseas to be eligible to be a postal voter and review the procedures of casting and sending the overseas postal ballots

    Media Statement by Anthony Loke, DAP National Organising Secretary-cum-MP for Rasah and Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist on 25 January 2013

    The Election Commission (EC) announced, on 21 January, 2013, the requirements and procedures for Malaysians overseas to apply for approval to cast a postal ballot in the upcoming 13th General Election.

    We are disappointed that it took the EC almost 14 months from the Parliamentary Select Committee’s Preliminary Report which was released on 1 December 2011 to implement this proposal. The EC now has approximately 2 months to register the many registered voters who are living and working overseas. This unnecessary delay means that many Malaysians will continue to be disenfranchised even after this announcement by the EC. During this time, there were no attempts by the EC, together with Wisma Putra, to encourage Malaysians overseas to register as ordinary voters at Malaysian high commissions and consulates. This means that the many tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Malaysians living and working overseas who are not yet registered ordinary voters, are not eligible to apply to be a postal voter.

    In addition, we are extremely disappointed that the EC has introduced a requirement that Malaysian overseas have to have been back in Malaysia for a period of 30 days in the past 5 years before they are eligible to be a postal voter. The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reform agreed to the condition that a voter need to have been back in Malaysia at least once in the past 5 years without specifying the time period. This was in recognition of the fact that many Malaysians living and working overseas may return to Malaysia for holidays for only a one- or two- or three-week period. Furthermore, imposing this 30-day condition increases the processing time for the EC to approve applications for postal voting since the EC has to verify with the Immigration Department on whether the applicant has fulfilled the requirement. We find this 30-day requirement to be unreasonable, unfair and against the spirit of wanting to include as many overseas Malaysians as possible in exercising their constitutional right to vote. As such, we call on the EC to immediately remove this condition and allow Malaysians overseas who have come back to Malaysia once in the past 5 years, regardless of the length of stay, to be eligible to cast a postal vote.

    We also call on the EC to review the procedures of casting and sending the postal ballots. Firstly, instead of only setting aside one day for Malaysians overseas to go to the respective high commissions and consulates to collect and cast their ballot, we ask that the EC set aside 3 days for ballot collection and casting. This will allow overseas voters the option of going to the high commissions and consulates on different days to collect their ballot and to cast their vote. It will also decrease the likelihood of overcrowding in certain embassies which serve a large Malaysian overseas community such as London, New York and Canberra.

    Secondly, we ask the EC to allow polling agents from each of the political parties to be stationed at the high commissions and consulates in order to monitor the ballot collection, vote-casting and the use of the diplomatic dispatch to send the ballot papers back to the EC headquarters in Putrajaya and also for polling agents from each of the political parties to monitor the process of sending out these postal ballots from the EC headquarters in Putrajaya to the respective constituencies. Here, we are not asking for a polling agent from each candidate in the 222 parliamentary and 505 state constituencies to be represented. We are merely asking for one representative from each political party to be represented which should total up to less than 10 representatives in each embassy. This is to assure many overseas voters, almost all of whom are voting via postal ballot for the first time, that their vote will not be compromised and to assure the political parties that ballots cast at the high commissions and consulates are the ones which are eventually sent to the respective counting stations in Malaysia.

    Thirdly, we ask the EC to give their assurance that they will provide the names of all of the overseas postal voters to the respective candidates at the end of nomination day. This is to ensure that the candidates know exactly how many overseas postal voters have been approved by the EC to cast their votes in the respective constituencies and that no additional overseas postal voters will be added to the electoral roll after nomination day.

    Fourthly, since the process of printing and sending the ballot papers overseas, the casting of the votes at the respective high commissions, the sending of these ballot papers back to the EC headquarters in Putrajaya and the sending out of these ballot papers to the respective constituencies is likely to take more than 2 weeks, we ask that the EC have a minimum 21-day campaign period, which is consistent with one of the eight core demands of Bersih. In the past, overseas votes of absentee voters which includes Malaysian students overseas as well as civil servants stationed overseas were not counted because the ballots either reached them too late or could not be sent back to Malaysia in time to be counted. To avoid disenfranchising Malaysian voters overseas, we ask that the EC commits to a minimum 21-day campaign period.

    We have waited a long time for the EC to make clear the procedures to allow Malaysian voters overseas to cast a postal ballot. If the EC is sincere about making this process work for the benefit of these Malaysian voters, it should abolish the 30-day residency requirement in the past 5 years and it should review the process of casting and sending these postal ballots so that Malaysians overseas and political parties can have the peace of mind that the secrecy and security of these votes will not be compromised.

    Anthony Loke Siew Fook
    Dr. Ong Kian Ming

  • USSA’s awarding of an honorary doctorate to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and its ongoing ‘bid’ to retrain up to 50,000 teachers in Malaysia is a clear conflict of interest

    Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 22nd January 2013

    President and CEO of the United States Sports Academy (USSA) Dr. Thomas Rosandich recently defended the award of an honorary doctorate to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, saying that it was based on merit and his proven track record and not linked to a project USSA undertook for the ministry.[1]

    What Dr. Rosandich failed to explain is the clear conflict of interest in awarding Tan Sri Muhyiddin this honorary doctorate when the institution he represents, USSA, could potentially benefit from a contract worth up to RM1.15 billion if its pilot project involving the training of Malaysian PE teachers is extended and expanded.

    Indeed, in the USSA website, it was stated that ‘It is anticipated that the International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports (IDPESS) program may expand into a five-year effort and include the retraining of 50,000 Malaysian teachers.’[2] The pilot program to train 1000 PE teachers already cost the Malaysian taxpayer RM22.9 million or RM22,900 per diploma in 2012.

    An expansion of this program to retrain 50,000 PE teachers could cost the taxpayer an additional RM1.145 billion over 5 years! No doubt such a contract would be given to USSA via its sole Malaysian agent, KH Sports Sdn Bhd whose chairwoman Hisham Suhaili Othman is the Puteri UMNO Chief in the Langkawi division.

    The awarding of this honorary doctorate to Tan Sri Muhyiddin when negotiations for the expansion of this program are still ongoing represents a clear conflict of interest on the part of USSA. Tan Sri Muhyiddin also showed poor judgement in accepting this honorary doctorate since it could easily be interpreted as an attempt by USSA to ‘curry favour’ and perhaps even to ‘bribe’ him into agreeing to the extension and expansion of this program.

    USSA’s website indicates that this pilot program has been extended to cover 2013 and the number of PE teachers who will undergo this program has been increased to 1,500.[3]

    We call upon Tan Sri Muhyiddin to confirm whether this pilot program has been extended and why this PE teachers’ training program continues to be awarded to a predominantly online US university via a Malaysian agent whose main business is selling sports equipment and whose chairwoman is a Kedah Puteri UMNO leader.

    We sincerely hope that this will not be met with the same deafening silence as our call for an explanation for Malaysia’s disastrous performance in the 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) where our ranking in Math fell from 20th in 2007 to 26th in 2011 while our ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 21st in 2007 to 32nd in 2011.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

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