Damian S. L. Yeo & L. C. Goh (DSLY)
No. 2007, Lorong Sidang Omar, off Jalan Penghulu Abbas, Bukit Baru, Hang Tuah Jaya, 75100 Melaka

Tel : 06-2347011
& 06-2347012
Fax: 06-2347022


Monday, April 30, 2007

Is there such thing as Phantom Voters?

Phontom Voters interestingly in Malay is known as Pengundi Hantu - Ghost Voter. Real or not this term suffice during the Ijok By Election and almost every election propogated by the Opposition mainly. Question is how true it is? I have read in Malaysia Today, an independant news portal a couple of days ago and found that there are many aged people (above 100) an eight year old who are voters. Difficult to believe? I find it hard too. But its true. Maybe there are such thing as Pengundi Hantu.

There are a couple of possibilities. Mainly two possibilities i.e. a tidak apa attitude by the election commission to do spring cleaning once in a while or really for the purposes of Pengundi Hantu.

This is a fundamental problem here. Worst still the issue of registered voters who are moved to other polling districts without their knowledge. In the 1990 general elections, a team of Commonwealth officials observing the election, raised it with the EC, which they themselves acknowledged that there were discrepancies affecting 300,000 voters or 4% of the electorate. This was however deny by the Prime Minister’s Department.

In the state of Sabah, Opposition parties claim that the ‘phantom voters’ phenomenon is perpetuated through the use of forged identity cards issued to large immigrant population. This claim was recognised by the election court in 2001 when it annulled the 1999 election in the state constituency of Likas. In his judgment, Justice Muhammad Kamil said:

“The instances of non-citizens and phantom voters in the electoral roll disclosed at this trial may
well be the tip of the iceberg… The exposure of fraudulent practices such as massive registration of phantom voters is time consuming. However, it has to be done if we wish to defend and preserve the meaningful practice of democracy in Malaysia. As custodians of free
and fair elections, the EC is duty bound to do it.”

Unfortunately, in response to it, the government moved fast to take advantage of their control of Parliament pass a Constitutional amendment in 2001 whereby the electoral roll is non-disputable once it is gazetted. This removes any legal avenue to challenge the electoral roll. Given the history of EC’s ineptness at updating and maintaining a clean electoral roll, this severly undermines Malaysian democracy as it legitimizes phantom voters.

These cases are rampant when voters are ferried from outside the constituency on polling day. In the by-election in 2001 in Lunas, Kedah, keADILan activists managed to stop eight busses that were ferrying these phantom voters from Kuala Lumpur and Selangor on polling day.

A study conducted by an election observer group indicated that in Lembah Pantai, 37.6% of
the voters’ addresses were untraceable. One wooden shack with a zink roof in Kampung
Kerinchi, Kuala Lumpur, that housed a modest sundry shop, was supposed to house 142 voters accordingly to the electoral roll! Unsurprisingly, the shop owner was shocked when asked whether his shop had 142 people living in it.

Similarly, the electoral roll in Kampung Kelang Gate, Hulu Kelang, contained six voters using fictitious addresses which depicted that they were living in high-rise apartments or flats. However, Kampung Kelang Gate is a traditional Malay village without a single high rise building.

On the exclusion of voters – the most striking instance is to be found in 1998 when 680,000 young voters (7.26% of the electorate) were denied the opportunity to vote because the BN government was wary that they might vote for the Opposition. The EC claimed that they did not have enough time to process their registration in May in time for the November 1999 elections.

While the EC seems to have problems in updating their records of registered voters, they have no qualms in recording voting choices during Election Day. There are serial numbers on the ballot paper and its corresponding counter-foil which are recorded by election officers and announced in the voting hall. This would naturally cause fear among voters that their vote
could be traced by the powers that be.

So is there Pengundi Hantu? Reason yourself and find out more. And to your surprise it exist.

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