Move to exclude

GEORGE TOWN (Jan 31, 2012):The Election Commission (EC) wants overseas Malaysians who are not taxpayers here to be rendered ineligible to vote in parliamentary or state elections.

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof disclosed today it is among a series of proposals the EC is submitting to the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms.

Citing the system in the United States where only taxpayers are allowed to vote, he said it is important that the right to cast ballots be limited to Malaysians who contribute to the country and return home periodically, and not those who have been away for a long time.

"Do we want to take in Malaysians (as voters) who do not come back to Malaysia? Do we take these people as voters?" he asked at a press conference following a briefing for EC officers at a hotel here.

Abdul Aziz said the mechanisms of the proposal, including setting the number of years a person does not pay tax to Malaysia before being barred from voting, will be further discussed with the PSC.

He expressed hope that the condition would be in place by March when the EC targets to wrap up its planning for the next general elections.

Civil society, when contacted for immediate response, cringed at the proposal which they deemed as a transgression on the constitutional right of citizens to vote.

The nine-man PSC, headed by Science, Innovation and Technology Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili, had in its interim report tabled on Nov 30 last year recommended that Malaysians residing overseas be allowed to vote as absent voters.

Meanwhile, Aziz announced that 42,025 names of voters are to be deleted from the electoral rolls as they could not be verified by the National Registration Department (NRD).

Of 12.4 million names in the electoral roll which the NRD was asked to verify last year, 42,051 which could not be verified were put on display on the EC's website and sent to political parties.

When the extended deadline for public feedback ended yesterday, there had been 50 responses, following which 26 names have been put back on the electoral roll.

Commenting on calls for early elections at Malaysian missions in foreign countries, Aziz said the Foreign Ministry had given feedback that the response from overseas Malaysians to register as voters there has been poor.

"Wisma Putra is not able (to facilitate early elections). It is impossible to have early elections there," he said.

Aziz said the EC is also proposing that the number of supporters accompanying an election candidate during nomination and balloting be restricted for safety purposes.

"This culture to come in droves and walk in a procession from one place to another needs to be eradicated," Aziz added.