Media statement by Dr. Hiew King Cheu in Kota Kinabalu on Monday, 14th February 2011:
Oversea Malaysian Citizens to vote as "absent-voter"
The Election Commission (EC/SPR) finally has instructed the Foreign Ministry to allow all full-time students abroad to vote at overseas missions, said its deputy chairman Datuk Wan Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar few days ago on the 11th of February, 2011.
Wan Ahmad said that the Malaysian Embassies and High commissions had not acted legally in only allowing government-sponsored students to vote as there is no law barring privately-sponsored students from registering and casting their votes.
Under the constitution, we cannot deny the rights to vote by eligible Malaysians. So, our first focus is our students aboard. We have informed the embassies and high commission, he said.
Under the Election (Registration of Electors) Regulations, 2002, it stated that all full time students aboard with their spouses are eligible to register as oversea voters if they have proof that they are full time students. We have made the clarification with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they have done in the past, by allowing only the government-sponsored students to register, was actually not in line with the regulation and law, he added. He was speaking at the launch of the "Voice your Choice" campaign by the Growing Emerging Leaders (GEL), a NGO.
Under the election laws, only four categories of Malaysian citizens living aboard are allowed to cast their votes as "Absent-voters", and defined in general terms as "registered voters living outside Malaysia", which includes the military personnel, public servants, full time students and their spouses, who may cast their votes in the high commission or consulates in the countries they live in.
All other citizens living abroad must return to Malaysia if they want to cast they vote whenever an election is called.
Wan Ahmad said the EC has begun placing appointed assistant registrars in all Malaysia embassies and High commission, starting January this year.
Wan Ahmad also said the EC was now looking at extending the ballots to other Malaysian at large who are working and residing overseas. "That will come later because it is a very complicated process. The election of our country is based on a territorial constituency representation," Wan Ahmad explained.
The kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament commented the statement made by the EC deputy commissioner Wan Ahmad by saying that it is all up to the will power of the EC to overcome all difficulties and allow all eligible Malaysian irrespective of their background to cast their votes to elect their representatives and new government.
Hiew said if the same can be arranged for the uniform group, the public servants, the students and their spouses, why can't the other Malaysian citizen overseas can not be allow to vote too, and why they must come back to Malaysia to vote in their own constituencies? Since the Malaysian embassies and High commission are instructed to carry out the voters registration and conduct voting, every Malaysian overseas can also vote according to the laws irrespective whether it is territorial constituencies or not.
The statement made by the EC is totally contradicting and doesn't make sense, in fact the EC must immediately arrange for all the overseas Malaysian to allow them to vote as "Absent-Voters" in centers established in the Malaysian Embassies and High Commissions.
* Dr Hiew King Cheu, MP for Kota Kinabalu