The Selangor PR state government announced that it will set aside RM1 million for the public to challenge irregularities in the electoral roll. Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim announced the grant on 3 August 2011. The funds can be used by those who find discrepancies in the electoral roll in Selangor constituencies.
The Menteri Besar said that the state government is concerned by ongoing complaints regarding irregularities of the electoral roll and the registration of new voters. Online news portal Malaysiakini had carried an expose that a permanent resident, one “Mismah”, had been added to the voter roll in a matter of hours after getting her citizenship
“Complaints and accusations of foreigners that have obtained permanent resident status become registered voters are most disconcerting and need to be resolved immediately. The Selangor state government is of the view that the people have a right to a clean electoral roll in order to have a clean and fair election,” he added.
According to Khalid, this grant is available to everyone regardless of race or religion or political affiliations. Since this involves Selangor state funds, only complaints on Selangor areas will be accepted.
The grant has being lauded by Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) and the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0). “It is justified,” said Mafrel chairperson Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, who added that the initiative was important as those who detect discrepancies can use the funds to file cases to the Election Commission (EC).
Syed Ibrahim pointed out that the public, rather than political parties, stands to benefit from the fund, as filing a challenge to the EC on irregularities found in the electoral roll costs RM10 per name. Echoing Khalid’s call, Syed Ibrahim said the government’s move was a step in the right direction. He said the group had encountered a case where 60 individuals were listed to be residing in the same house.
“When we arrived at the address, we found only six persons on the list staying at the house,” he said. Syed Ibrahim pointed out that at RM10 per name, it would have cost the petitioner RM600 to file the case. The chairperson and co-founder of the polls watchdog said such cases were prevalent as Mafrel had encountered the situation “many times” since its founding in 2003.
Meanwhile, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua also welcomed the substantial RM1 million fund that the state government is setting up. He pointed out that political parties, who are obviously concerned over voter irregularities in the electoral rolls, do not have the financial means to support such a project.
Pua said the state government should also identify a pool of lawyers and other legal experts on electoral-fraud cases to supplement the initiative. “We need people to evaluate the cases we are going to file with the EC when the time comes,” he said. -The Rocket