Overseas Postal Voting Needs To Be Fair, says Global Bersih

Press Release
7 February 2018

Global Bersih demands that the postal voting process for the 14th General Election (GE14) for registered voters residing abroad be strengthened by inviting reputable international observers such as the United Nations and The Commonwealth.

The Election Commission (EC) chairman has promised to appoint local and international election observers during GE14. Global Bersih welcomes this development and would like assurance that these same observers will scrutinise the issuance, receipt and counting of ballots.

We are also urging the Malaysian government to invite the Commonwealth to send a Commonwealth Observer Group to independently monitor the conduct of GE14. This is a particularly timely intervention given that Malaysia will be taking up the position of Chair in 2020.

Moreover, Global Bersih would like assurance from the EC that local and international observers be included in the scrutineering process in East Malaysia as well as West Malaysia and they should be allowed to observe both urban and rural constituencies.

Global Bersih criticized EC for not providing permanent overseas voting procedures. Instead, overseas Malaysians are being left in the dark about the overseas voting process every time a general election is called, until the last moment.

Malaysians abroad have already found embassies unable to give official guidance on the voting process this time for GE14. Malaysians in various cities abroad who are part of the Global Bersih network have been in continual contact with their respective embassies for almost two years on the issue of overseas voting procedures. However, with GE14 expected these next few months, it appears that the embassies do not have any more information than what is already in the press.

Since Pos Malaysia Berhad will be fully managing the despatch of ballots. Global Bersih demands EC to give an assurance that they will use Poslaju courier service to deliver the ballot papers to all registered overseas voter in time for to vote. Global Bersih also demands a minimum campaign period of 25 days for the ballots to be received and return to Malaysia in time.

Besides that, it is quite disappointing that overseas voters have to pay for their ballots returning courier cost. Such cost could be a burden for privately funded overseas students.

Global Bersih also finds problematic and disappointing the fact that Malaysians residing in Singapore, southern Thailand, Brunei and Kalimantan continue to be disenfranchised from the overseas voting process. There are about one million Malaysians – or more than half of Malaysians overseas – residing in these locations, mostly in Singapore.

The exclusion of these regions from the overseas voting process is arbitrary and unfair, and burdens Malaysians living in these regions by making them bear the cost of returning home to vote, not to mention having to arrange to take leave from work in order to do so.

Since Malaysia has been ranked 125th in the 2018 World Electoral Freedom Index, building confidence in the system will take time and initiative on the EC’s part. Overseas Malaysians would therefore be comforted by these recommended checks and would be encouraged to participate in the voting process.

We strongly urge the EC to give all Malaysians the right to vote from overseas.

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