Monday, November 14, 2011

Six in Britain get court nod on absent voter move

Six in Britain get court nod on absent voter move

UPDATED @ 11:10:56 AM 14-11-2011
November 14, 2011
Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — The High Court has granted leave to six Malaysians living in Britain to compel the Election Commission (EC) to register them as absent voters in the next general election.

The question of voting rights for Malaysians overseas has been a point of contention for a long time.

While the country’s civil servants and members of the armed forces and students overseas are allowed to vote through the post, the EC rules do not provide for other citizens abroad to be registered as absentee voters.

Dr Teo Hoon Seong, electrical engineer V. Vinesh, entrepreneur Paramjeet Singh, Dr Yolanda Sydney Augustin, translator Sim Tze Wei and software architect Leong See See claim the EC’s provisions are in breach of the Federal Constitution which provides for all citizens with the right to vote.

The controversial issue is also among several key points that have been raised to an ongoing parliamentary polls reform committee.

High Court judge Rohana Yusof, of the appellate and special powers division, fixed December 13 for case management and January 3 for the hearing.

The six want a declaration that they are entitled to be registered as absent voters and directed the EC, named as the sole respondent, to register them.

They also want to quash a decision made by the EC, which notified them in a letter dated September 9, that it will not register them as absent voters.

Alternatively, they want a court order directing the EC to make regulations and take appropriate actions within 14 days from the court ruling to allow them to be registered as absent voters and/or postal voters in order for them to vote in the general election.

The six overseas voters were represented by lawyer Edmund Bon while federal counsel Amarjit Singh acted for the EC.

The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition’s Chinese party, the MCA, triggered an uproar last Friday when it told the nine-man parliamentary panel that Malaysians overseas did not qualify to vote and determine the country’s future government because they were “out of touch” with current events and receive updates from questionable sources.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek later said its delegation was misunderstood and the party opposed the overseas vote due to “logistical” difficulties.

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