EC denies ethnically-targeted objections against new voters

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Ethnic Chinese seen at the Election Commission’s office in Shah Alam to verify themselves as eligible voters. — Picture courtesy of Elaine Lee, taken from MMO.

Ethnic Chinese seen at the Election Commission’s office in Shah Alam to verify themselves as eligible voters. — Picture courtesy of Elaine Lee, taken from MMO.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — The Election Commission has rejected allegations that specific communities were being singled out using objections against their registrations as new voters.

EC chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah said all objections or registrations for new voters are done in accordance with Article 119 of the Federal Constitution and without any discrimination.

“When there is an objection, the EC will process it fairly without looking at his or her voting area, age, gender or religion.

“Registrations that have been objected involved all races, and not limited to any one race,” he told Malay Mail Online.

Malay Mail Online had earlier reported of one such incident, involving a Chinese woman’s boyfriend in Selangor.

She had claimed that there were mostly Chinese Malaysians at the EC’s office in Shah Alam, who received objection letters to be voters when they went to the office Monday morning.   Read more

The politics of native titles in Sarawak — James Chin

Source: New Mandala

AN 19TH CENTURY PRINT OF A DAYAK VILLAGE. IMAGE: BRITISH LIBRARY/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

AN 19TH CENTURY PRINT OF A DAYAK VILLAGE. IMAGE: BRITISH LIBRARY/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

Political malaise and self-serving leaders have left the indigenous Dayak people on shaky ground when it comes to land claims, writes James Chin.

On 7 January, Dayak “intellectuals” gathered in Pending, on the outskirts of Kuching, the capital of Sarawak state in Malaysia, to discuss the issue of Native Customary Rights (NCR) land, more commonly called native titles.

The meeting was hastily organised because Malaysia’s Federal Court overturned a lower court’s decision and ruled that ‘pulau galau’ (communal forest reserve) and ‘pemakai menoa’ (territorial domain) do not have the force of law. The ruling, in practice, meant most of the native title claims in Sarawak will not win their court challenge against the state for recognition of their NCR title.

What is NCR in Sarawak?
NCR, culturally, is widely understood in Sarawak as land belonging to the indigenous peoples of where there is no title issued. Under the Adat (customary law), NCR land has three components; ‘temuda’, ‘pulau galau’ (PG) and ‘pemakai menoa’ (PM). ‘Termuda’ refers to cultivated or farmed areas. PM and PG lie beyond the ‘Termuda’.

PG is usually understood to be a reserved area kept for communal use while PM is an area used for hunting and foraging by the Dayak community, and hence is usually much larger than the PG and Termuda. Read more

Bersih: Voter registration challenges open to abuse

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Bersih 2.0’s chairman Maria Chin Abdullah— Picture by Saw Siow Feng, taken from Malay Mail Online.

Bersih 2.0’s chairman Maria Chin Abdullah— Picture by Saw Siow Feng, taken from Malay Mail Online.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — The Election Commission’s (EC) system to object against dubious registrants can be exploited to disenfranchise new voters, said a polls watchdog group following claims that specific communities were currently being targeted.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah pointed out the system was vulnerable to abuse as there is currently no threshold to lodge an objection against new voters beyond plain “suspicion”.

“You just stand in front of the judge and he will ask why are you objecting, and then you say ‘Oh, I think this person is not staying at that address,’” Maria explained, adding no other information beyond that was required.

A complainant only has to pay RM10 to lodge each objection and may file up to 20 such complaints under the Elections (Registration Of Electors) Regulations 2002. None of the complaints need to be accompanied by any form of evidence.

Although the process to strike out unfounded objections is straightforward, it still requires the person flagged as a dubious registrant to take the time and attend the proceedings. Those who do not are struck from the rolls and may not take part in elections until they are restored.

Maria said the authorities should at least perform some rudimentary vetting of the objection filings to ensure those that do reach the Elections Court are of some substance.

“There should be more safeguards to scrutinise this. The regulations need to be tightened,” she told Malay Mail Online. Read more