Call on Election Commission to end the semantics argument and convene an all-party conference to carry out a six-month purge of  the electoral roll of all phantom voters, whether “illegal immigrant”, “imported” or “dead”

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Wednesday): The Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman is getting involved in a ridiculous argument of semantics over the definition of  “phantom voter”, trying to make a distinction among  those such as illegal immigrants  who are illegally registered on the electoral roll with false  identity cards as highlighted in the Likas case where the former Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Yong Teck Lee was disqualified in an election petition, those who were “imported” into a constituency from another constituency or state and the dead but whose particulars are used to cast votes during an election. 

The Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had last Friday specifically blamed the failure of  UMNO to win the recent Pendang parliamentary by-election with a bigger majority and the UMNO  defeat in  Anak Bukit state assembly by-election to “rigging of phantom voters” in the two constituencies, claiming that more than 500 phantom voters who were PAS supporters, “not only from other constituencies in Kedah but from constituencies as far as Terengganu and Negri Sembilan”, were discovered in just four ballot boxes.  

PAS have denied Mahathir’s allegations and Mahathir and UMNO have yet to produce concrete evidence to substantiate their  allegations. 

Rashid however disagreed with Mahathir’s allegation of “phantom voters”, asserting that voters who were improperly and illegally moved from one constituency or state to another  were “import voters” because “the voters are alive”.  

He implied that  UMNO was guilty of laziness,  carelessness and negligence, saying that when the Election Commission published the new electoral roll for display and objection,  he had told UMNO that it should be careful about certain “election tricks”, which parties could engage in elections, adding that among them was the case of importing voters.  But there was no complaint whatsoever from UMNO. 

He said this is not a new phenomenon as it had been happening over the last 20 years and done by all parties. 

Rashid is right when he said that this abuse of the electoral process had been going on for the past two decades, as the DAP had been complaining about this phenomenon since the early eighties,  both inside and outside Parliament, and we have always called them “phantom voters” in the sense that they had no legal basis or claim to be a voter in a constituency when they had  neither residential nor work ties but who appeared during an election like a phantom to cast his or her vote and to disappear thereafter. 

Rashid is wrong however to make the blanket allegation that the rigging of such imported “phantom voters” was done by all parties, as the DAP had never resorted to such electoral malpractices, and I challenge Rashid to produce evidence of any DAP complicity in such electoral abuses.

Instead of being involved in a  semantics argument over the definition of “phantom voter”, Rashid should  convene an all-party conference to carry out a six-month purge of the electoral roll of all phantom voters, whether “illegal immigrant”, “imported” or “dead” – as they are a blot to the conduct of a free, fair and clean general election. 

Rashid’s press conference yesterday raised many disturbing questions about the autonomy, independence and impartiality of the Election Commission in the discharge of its constitutional mandate to conduct free, fair and clean elections: 

Is the Election Commission being responsible and faithful to its constitutional duty and mandate to conduct free, fair and clean elections by washing its hand of the responsibility to clean up  the electoral roll of imported phantom voters by pushing the entire responsibility  to  political parties despite being aware of its existence for the past 20 years?

Rashid is right, however, to dismiss  the allegation by UMNO leaders, including Mahathir, Najib Tun Razak, Rafidah Aziz  that there were two sets of electoral rolls in the two Kedah by-elections, which is totally inconceivable and unthinkiable – as it would warrant the impeachment of the entire Election Commission!

Unless UMNO could immediately produce proof of the existence of a second electoral list in the two by-elections, not only UMNO but the  top national government  leadership has been put in a  very poor light, as this episode has highlighted that  it  comprises very  gullible and credulous people who  could believe the wildest and even the most nonsensical allegations.

The UMNO leadership owes an explanation to the people of Malaysia as to how they could be so gullible  to believe that there is a second electoral list in the two by-elections and whether they have been victims of dishonest UMNO leaders whether at the  state or  local levels.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman