Saturday, May 8

Spike in new voters from 1982 – EC


KOTA KINABALU: The conducting officer in the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) public hearings in Sabah yesterday suggested the Election Commission considering posting photos of all registered voters on its website.

Manoj Kurup said this would make it easier for the public to check their voter status, especially in cases where more than one persons were using the same identification card number and name.

“It has been revealed throughout the Inquiry that there were cases where two individuals are using the same identity. So, why not include the pictures of the voters so that they can make sure it is them and not other people when they check online?” he said.

Putrajaya Election Commission (EC) Registration of Voters Unit secretary Yusniati Ishak, who was testifying before the Commission when the suggestion was made, said the EC at the moment did not see the need to implement the move.

She added that a study needed to be carried out before implementing the suggested improvement as it could involve extra costs and could be deemed inconvenient by the public if they had to provide pictures when applying to be registered as voters.

However, Yusniati said she would forward the suggestion to the EC office.

Friends of the court taking part in the hearing also suggested that EC put up the pictures of new applicants when exhibiting their names for objection before confirming their status in the electoral roll.

They also suggested EC use colour photographs to make it easier for the applicants or members of the public to identify them in case they wanted to make an objection.

Earlier, Yusniati explained that the names of new voters would be displayed for 14 days in designated public places, such as district offices, before they can be confirmed as registered voters.

She said this was to allow the parties involved to make objections, such as in cases where the person registered in a certain constituency was not from the area.

On the number of registered voters in Sabah, she confirmed that there was a decline throughout the 1969, 1974 and 1978 elections.

In the first election, she said there were 295,880 eligible voters in the electoral roll but the number decreased to 230,469 in 1974 and dropped further to 208,861 in 1978.

However, the number increased sharply in the following election in 1982 with over 150,000 new voters being listed, bringing the total number of voters to 358,609.

The trend continued since then with 807,862 names listed in the state electoral roll during the 2008 elections.

An annual statistics of registered voters in Sabah for 2007 until 2012 was also tendered as exhibit for the Inquiry.

The document stated the latest figure as per August last year, showing a total of 959,669 registered voters in Sabah.

To a question, Yusniati said although the round figure of the number of registered voters were available for the year as early as 1969, records on the details of voters were only available for 1996 onwards.

She added that the Agency Link-up System (ALIS) currently used by EC to crosscheck information of voters with the National Registration Department and other related agencies was only introduced in 2002, and there was no mechanism to verify the information given by voters prior to that.

She also agreed that massive awareness campaigns carried out by EC as well as political parties could be among the contributing factors to the surge in the number of electorates in Sabah over the years.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Immigration director Datuk Robert Lian shared with the RCI panel that there were 171,000 registered foreign workers in Sarawak with the majority being Indonesians.

He said there were 22,222 workers who came forward to register during the 6P amnesty programme held by the government in 2011.

Between the 1960s to 1975, they had issued 2,694 IMM13 documents to foreigners in Sarawak, and no more after that.

“The IMM13 holders are people living around the border areas and displaced people during the Malaysia – Indonesia confrontation era.

“Only about 275 holders are valid or active ones today, which is about 10 per cent of the total issued, who come to renew their documents annually.

“The rest probably have applied for entry permits, went back to their hometown for reasons not known, and since some backdated from the 60s, some might have passed away,” he explained.

On a question by RCI panel member Tan Sri Herman Luping whether CCTVs were installed at the 31 entry points to Sarawak, Lian said it would not be possible for remote areas but border control posts were set up where an individual was required to report to the nearest post upon entering the state.