Global Bersih chapters in Ireland, France, Geneva, Germany, London, Milan, Netherlands and Scotland are shocked at the blatant denial by Electoral Commission chief Mohd Hashim Abdullah of the major problem in the overseas voting procedure for the general election.
The ballots have not yet reached all Malaysians voters. It will therefore be impossible to return them to the returning officer before the deadline.
In his statement on 6 May, Mohd Hashim assured voters that the ballot papers would arrive in time to reach their returning officers before 5pm on 9 May. His exact statement: “I am confident that postal votes, including the overseas ballots, will return in time. We still have time so there is no need to worry.”
Many Malaysian voters in France, Geneva , Germany, London, Milan, Netherlands, Scotland, the UK and Ireland were still waiting for their ballots to arrive. Even if the ballots had arrived yesterday, Monday, 7 May 2018, it would be impossible to return the ballots to the returning officer by post. As polling day on 9 May is a public holiday, on which no delivery services will be running, the real deadline is effectively 8 May.
Many Malaysian voters in all these countries have received confirmation emails from the courier service stating that their ballots would arrive at their addresses as late as today, 8 May 2018.
Therefore, the Electoral Commission’s assurance suggests that they are either in denial or determined to ignore the major problem faced by overseas Malaysian voters, which is that they have not yet received their ballots and will be unable to return these ballots in time.
Even those overseas Malaysian voters who have received their ballots on Saturday, 5 May are unable to return them on time and are looking for alternative ways such as organising vote carriers to carry their votes back.
Mohd Hashim also cited Malaysians voters in South Korea as an example of a successful process. His statement: “In fact, there are those in South Korea who have already received their postal votes and sent back to their respective returning officers.”
But we have feedback from our counterparts in South Korea that there are Malaysian voters there who have also not yet received their ballots.
As of the end of 7 May 2018, numerous Malaysians in the cities and countries mentioned above have not received any notice whatsoever from courier service companies or from the Electoral Commission to indicate that their ballots are on the way. They also have been having difficulties contacting the Electoral Commission directly.
There are also problems with ballots that have been received eg missing return address for the envelopes.
We have mentioned before about the hefty cost incurred by the overseas Malaysian voters, and as the deadline approaches the cost has skyrocketed.
In an enquiry with DHL Swiss yesterday by a Lausanne-based Malaysian who received the ballot yesterday, in order to guarantee delivery to Malaysia by the deadline, the only option is Same Day Express Delivery Service. This delivery service will cost CHF5000 (RM19,300), a price far beyond the capability of ordinary Malaysians.
In addition, we are disappointed with the statement from caretaker deputy home minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed that overseas voters would not affect the outcome of the general election. On Twitter, he has claimed that there are only 8,000 overseas voters.
We would like to point out that even the latest number quoted by the Electoral Commission is 12 000, and the Electoral Commission has yet to support these numbers with proof.
But the exact number of overseas voters is less important than the fact that these overseas Malaysians have been robbed of their democratic right to vote by the Electoral Commission they trusted to protect that right.
The fact that the ballots are arriving in Europe as late as 8 May and the fact that the Electoral Commission denies the problem clearly demonstrated that it is not interested in enfranchising all Malaysian voters living outside the country.
In fact, Malaysian voters in Europe are being victimised, as they are indirectly being denied their right to vote in the general election.
We also like to draw your attention to the Global Bersih petition, “EC sabotages Postal Voting for Overseas Malaysians”, which calls upon the Electoral Commission chairman to explain without further delay how overseas postal votes can be returned by 5pm on 9 May.
The petition has reached more than 35,000 in the last few days, clearly showing that the people are not satisfied with the Electoral Commission’s overseas postal voting procedure for the general election.
Bersih France, Bersih Geneva, Bersih Germany, Bersih UK, Bersih Milan, Bersih Netherlands, Bersih Scotland and Bersih Ireland would like to point out that the Electoral Commission has failed in its duty and responsibility to ensure that the ballot papers reach overseas voters with adequate time for them to return the ballots before polls close at 5 pm Malaysian time on 9 May 2018.
We also call upon the Electoral Commission to take the blame for the problems emerging from it procedure instead of ignoring the problems and denying its responsibility.