Fast verification for overseas voters' status

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PETALING JAYA (Feb 1): Less than two minutes - that is how long it would take to verify if a Malaysian living abroad has stayed in this country for at least 30 days to be an eligible voter, according to a high ranking immigration officer.

The 30-day requirement, tabulated over a period of five years, is part of a practice that would see citizens who are registered voters but living abroad casting their ballots for the first time in the 13th General Election.

Former Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform member Anthony Loke had previously expressed concern that verifying details with the Immigration department may increase the processing time for the Election Commission.

The Rasah Member of Parliament said that this in turn could hinder Malaysians from exercising their constitutional right.

The Immigration officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, however said that verification was a "simple process as everything was computerised".

"Officers need only key the MyKad or passport number and it can be done," the officer told fz.com.

The source said that all was needed was for the EC to hand over the details to them.

When contacted, Loke was said both the EC and the Immigration Department should reveal the details of this process, as there were thousands of potential voters.

"Two minutes equal to about 30 verifications (per hour), while there is an eight-hour working period. "How many officers will be involved?" he asked.

Loke also reiterated his stand against the 30-day ruling, saying that it would not encourage Malaysians overseas to vote. Returning once a year, he said, was enough.

The EC, he charged, was trying to make things "difficult".

On Wednesday the EC revealed that over 1,000 registered Malaysian voters residing overseas have applied to participate in the next general election.

When contacted, EC Deputy Chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar explained that the verification of Malaysian voters abroad is an on-going process.

A special unit based in Putrajaya, he said, had been set up to process the application and liaise with the immigration department.

"Once it is verified that the applicant is eligible the unit will get in touch with the Malaysians residing overseas and inform them," he told fz.com.

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