KUALA LUMPUR, March 2, 2008 (AFP) – Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim Sunday accused the government of perpetuating postal vote fraud as citizens prepare to cast their ballots on March 8.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition government, which has led the country since independence, is expected to win the poll but lose more seats amid protests and rising prices.
However, reports of voting irregularities have cast doubt on whether the upcoming polls will be fair.
“(We) are profoundly disappointed, though not surprised, by the latest evidence of postal voting fraud likely to be perpetuated during the upcoming elections,” Anwar told AFP.
“The untransparent process of postal votes will result in seats won by opposition candidates being stolen by the ruling coalition in a blatantly fraudulent manner,” he added.
Postal voting is presently restricted to military troops, policemen and teachers who are based far away from their constituencies.
Anwar’s comments come as his party colleague Ibrahim Yaacob, who is a candidate for a parliamentary seat in the capital, gave reporters the names of postal voters they say were issued with two ballot sheets.
I was there when the Election Commission (EC) was packing voter kits for postal votes on Saturday and we spotted at least six people with the same identification card number having two ballots each,” Yaacob said.
“This is voting fraud as each postal voter should have only one vote,” he added.
Electoral reform activists say a number of seats that the opposition would win could be decided by postal votes and that those casting postal votes do not have the freedom to choose the candidate they want.
Activists from the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) say each ballot is also attached to a letter identifying the voter along with the voting slip serial number, so it would be easy to trace who voted for the opposition.
The EC, which maintains the electoral rolls and administers postal voting, could not be reached for comment.
It has repeatedly denied accusations that it is in league with the BN to rig the process so the ruling coalition gets extra votes.