For some 160 Malaysians, it is never too old to try something new, including registering as voters after their 90th birthday.
A study done by poll watchdog Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap) found more than 160 people aged 90 and above, including several centenarians, have registered as new voters since the last general election.
In a series of reports published on its blog, Merap pointed out that there were 143 senior citizens aged 90 and above added into the electoral roll between the 2008 general election and the third quarter of 2011.
"Merap noticed that despite the efforts by the Election Commission (EC) to remove deceased voters, there seems to be an effort by certain parties to continuously register people who are unlikely to be alive," it said.
The list includes one 103-year-old female voter who was registered by a government agency in 2011.
However a check last month revealed that this voter, Piah Nyat, had since been removed from the electoral roll.
"While it is possible that the voter may have passed away since her registration, it is more likely that the voter was already deceased at time of registration," lamented Merap.
According to the study, the second oldest new voter, aged 99 at time of registration in 2010 and 102 this year, is still a voter for the Bukit Mertajam parliamentary constituency.
Another two voters, who were 98 when they registered in 2010 and 2011 respectively and are now 101 and 100, are still voters in Kulim Bandar Baharu and Kuala Terengganu parliamentary constituencies respectively.
In the third and fourth quarter of 2012, there were another 19 such voters added to the electoral roll including two centenarians aged 103 and 104 respectively who registered in the fourth quarter.
Besides fresh registrations, the study also showed 13 voters aged above 90 changing their voting addresses in the two quarters.
"Although the EC has taken some initiatives to delete very old voters for reason of death, what is irrefutable is that certain interested parties are consistently supplying new very old voter registrations to the EC.
"Polling agents should be vigilant and look out for 90 and 100 years old voters voting for the very first time in their long, long life!" Merap concluded.
Merap is headed by Ong Kian Ming, a lecturer and political analyst at UCSI University who joined DAP last year. The organisation seeks to identify problems in the electoral roll and to find ways to correct them.
The study however did not include the data of newly registered voters within the period from fourth quarter of 2011 to second quarter of 2012 due to insufficient humanpower, Merap told Malaysiakini when contacted yesterday.
Issues addressed by EC
The EC has however addressed these issues in its latest booklet published last December where it refuted 22 allegations.
In the 33-page booklet, the EC states that it cannot prevent any citizen from applying for registration as an elector even though the applicant is more than 90 years old.
"The same applies to the cleaning up of the electoral roll.
"The EC cannot arbitrarily delete the names of electors who are very old, for example, those who are 90 years and above unless the EC is informed and it is confirmed by the National Registration Department that an elector has lost his eligibility either due to death or had his citizenship revoked," it added.
The commission revealed that there were four applicants between 90 and 91 years old who had submitted their applications for registration in the third quarter of 2012.
"This clearly demonstrates that old age is not a barrier for anyone to apply to register as an elector as long as one meets the eligibility requirements."
The EC claimed that it has conducted some investigations randomly on electors who were 90 years and above and found that some were still alive and were therefore genuine voters.
To back its argument, the booklet has attached a news report published in Malay daily Berita Harian on Dec 13, 2012, on the birthday celebrations of a 100-year-old man in good health and capable of cycling.
"A review of the EC's electoral roll reveals that he is registered as a voter in the Permatang Pauh constituency," the EC added.