The Election Commission is holding another round of hearings on objections to voter registration in Selangor from 17 April 2017 to 11 May at its office in Wisma PKNS, Shah Alam.
This involves those who registered as a new voter or changed their IC address in time to be added to the October to December 2016 supplementary roll, but are facing objections to their registration.
The objection process is a safeguard in the law to ensure a clean electoral roll because once gazetted, the roll cannot be challenged even in court. Political parties are the usual scrutinisers of supplementary rolls, but citizens can also check it wherever it’s displayed (at EC and local council offices) to see whether their neighbourhood has any suspicious new voters and, if yes, lodge an objection with the EC at a fee of RM10. New voters themselves can check that their details are correct if they are unable to access the EC’s website.
Unfortunately, the objection process is being abused by certain parties to disenfranchise new voters in what are expected to be hotly contested seats. Voters should not allow them to get away with this and defend their right to vote!
After our first monitoring on 6 March, BERSIH 2.0 was at the Selangor EC office again on 20 April. A total of 503 voters from Gombak were scheduled to be heard. In the 1.5 hours we spent there, we found that, similar to what was exposed in the first round last month, an estimated 99% of the 100-plus people then who faced objections to their voter registration were Chinese. Most were new voters in Gombak; a few had moved into the constituency.
When we went inside the small office, the reception area wasn’t full yet, with around 30 people inside. Somehow, the objectors, all of whom were Malay, were seated on one side of the room, facing the voters who were objected to on the opposite side, underscoring the racial factor in the objections.
For the benefit of those who haven’t been there, here’s a brief description of the room and process. At one corner was a counter where SPR staff sat to handle queries. Next to it was the door to the room in which the objection hearing is held. Interestingly, this time around, there was a cloth-covered table at the other corner of the room, complete with purple skirting; a man who was not an EC staff sat there to hand out the RM100 compensation owed to dubious voters who’ve had their validity confirmed at the hearing.
We spoke to a few of those whose registration was objected to.
A new voter from Klang said the reason given in the objection to his registration was “alamat meragukan” (dubious address); yet he received the notice of objection by post at that very address!
YYL, 29, took leave for the day and was prepared to sit there all day to find out for herself what was really happening, having googled and read up on the travails of voters who were objected to last month. She followed Bukit Lanjan state assembly representative Elizabeth Wong’s Facebook post advice on this matter to the T, even bringing a friend along as backup in case there was trouble.
Her objector was not present when it was her turn to be heard; nevertheless her case went ahead. It was dismissed after she correctly answered the judge’s specific questions about the area.
But because she wanted to ask her objector exactly what was meant by “pengundi tidak dapat dikesan” or voter cannot be traced, which was the reason stated in the notice for the objection, she decided to call the number on the print-out given after the hearing, which has details of her objector – name, IC number and phone number. Fortunately, her objector had arrived by then, as she fortuitously found out when a phone rang nearby a second after she dialled the number.
Funnily enough, when confronted, her objector actually shot back at her, “Who are you? Why did I object to you?” and had to refer to a list of 20 names (one person is allowed to file a maximum of 20 objections) to recall the details! YYL’s objector also had the temerity to grill her and ask for her IC details, which should have been done at the hearing.
YYL did not get a satisfactory answer on why her registration was objected to, but she noticed that her objector’s form stated her address as the one in her birth certificate, where she no longer lives, rather than her identity card. This raises the question: How did her objector obtain her birth certificate address?
YYL was also quick to note that although the print-out states that the compensation will be deposited into her account in three months, no account number was asked of her. So she insisted to her objector to be paid on the spot and was guided to the man in the corner handing out the money.
She hung around for a while after that, quietly guiding others who seemed lost, until she started drawing stares from a few plain-clothed bouncer-types, which made her decide to leave eventually, right before we caught up with her.
We too noticed that many, unlike YYL who came prepared for the hearing, were clueless about what was really going on. So we briefed them on what to do as it was apparent that the EC staff were more communicative with the objectors – in cosy terms, too.
What to do if your registration or change of address is objected to:
1. First, check your voting status update at http://daftarj.spr.gov.my/DAFTARJ/ four to six months after your registration or change of address.
2. If your registration or change of address is objected to, your voting status should say “dalam proses siasatan kerana pemilih dibantah” (being investigated because voter has been objected to). You should also receive a notice by registered post from the EC informing you that a hearing will be held on the matter; usually within a fortnight if the post delivers on time. However, the EC website may not be updated and you may not be alerted that anything is amiss, so it’s best to check your mail box every day.
3. Prepare the documents stated in the notice to show that you live in the address (IC) and that the address is correct (eg. electricity/water bill).
4. Come to the EC office for the hearing at the stated time and date in the notice (failing which, your registration will be cancelled and you will have to register all over again).
5. At the EC office, submit your name to the EC staff. You will be given a queue number. There will be other voters there facing the same predicament. There should also be objectors there.
6. Relax and wait for your turn. When the judge is ready to hear your case, the EC staff will announce you and your objector’s names. The police will let both of you into the hearing room, though you may be going in alone if your objector is not present.
7. The judge will ask you a few questions to verify your claim and then make her/his decision.
8. Upon leaving the room, you will be given a print-out of the case, which has your objector’s name, IC number and phone number. If you are not able to meet your objector face-to-face to demand compensation as per your legal right for the inconvenience caused to you over their wrong objection, call the number listed; insist on cash at hand.
9. Contact the BERSIH 2.0 hotline – 011-1131 3803; firstname.lastname@example.org – if you need further clarification.
The next objection hearings are for:
· Sg Besar – 2 May (Tue) 9am-1pm – 350 new voters
· Sg Besar – 3 May (Wed) 9am-1pm – 350 new voters
· Sg Besar – 4 May (Thu) 9am-1pm – 195 new voters
· Selayang – 4 May (Thu) 9am-1pm – 100 new voters
· PJ Selatan – 8 May (Mon) 9am-1pm – 98 new voters
· Klang – 8 May (Mon) 9am-1pm – 176 new voters
· Kapar – 9 May (Tue) 9am-12.30pm; 2.30-4.30pm – 505 new voters
· Ampang – 11 May (Thu) 9am-12.30pm; 2.30-4.30pm – 458 new voters