With elections less than a day away, frustration is building among Malaysians living abroad who have not received their postal ballot papers
A rally organised by Bersih UK brought together about 30 Malaysians at Trafalgar Square, London yesterday, 7 May to protest against the Election Commission (EC) over the late arrival of postal ballot papers
Many registered overseas voters complained that they have not received their ballot papers or received them too late, making it impossible for their votes to reach Malaysia by the 5pm deadline tomorrow, 9 May.
"Majority of the postal voters in UK are very frustrated with the poorly planned postal voter process. We feel like we are treated like second-class voters when our votes are just as important as everyone else," said Malaysian marketing executive Shoban, who currently lives in the UK.
"We also don't understand why everyone is receiving ballots at varying times, some are even receiving their papers on election day (9 May) itself," the 29-year-old told SAYS.
"There are thousands of Malaysians overseas who are not able to vote because some have not received their ballot or the ballots are arriving late. Voting is a democratic right for everyone," said postgraduate student and lawyer Melissa Sasidaran, who has yet to receive her ballot papers, according to The Star.
"... the campaign period is too short for us to receive the ballot papers. These are lost votes, and the EC has spent taxpayers' money to send the ballot papers overseas," said Bersih UK coordinator Dr Yolanda Augustin.
Protesters at the rally repeatedly chanted, "EC, where are our postal votes?", "EC sabotages postal votes," and "We want a clean and free election," as reported by MalaysiaKini.
Malaysian student in Nottingham UK, Ana (not her real name*) discovered that her ballot paper will only arrive to her on 9 May - the day of the elections, as reported by Channel News Asia.
25-year-old Malaysian content marketing executive Daniel, who also resides in the UK, said that despite being a registered postal voter, he has not received his ballot paper yet and is disappointed that he will not get to vote this round.
"Whether it is basic incompetence or intentional gerrymandering, the EC should take full responsibility for not ensuring the rights of overseas Malaysians to vote. There is no where else I’d rather be than at my polling station on the 9th of May to cast my ballot, but it looks like I will have to wait another 5 years just to do so," he told SAYS.
In the race against time for some of these voters, SPR chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah had previously advised postal voters awaiting their ballots not to fret, saying, "Insya Allah, there is still time"
He also made assurances that all ballot papers will arrive in the hands of registered overseas voters and be returned to the election officers in their respective constituencies by 5pm on polling day.
According to a Berita Harian report, EC had announced that there are approximately 12,000 overseas voters and 299,000 postal voters.
The late postal ballot papers are not only affecting those in the UK, but in other countries as well
"I applied for my postal vote before the cut-off date and received a confirmation email that my application was received. However, I'm still registered as voting in my hometown and have not received anything in the mail. Effectively, I simply can't vote," said 29-year-old Malaysian Tania (not her real name*), who is currently studying in Brisbane, Australia.
"I feel like I have been denied my most fundamental right and denied my voice at a very important time in Malaysia," she told SAYS.
In spite of the setbacks, Malaysians abroad who have received their ballot papers have taken matters into their own hands by organising movements to return as many postal votes to Malaysia by election day
1. Malaysians in the UK have created a Facebook group called Malaysia Memilih 2018 to coordinate the delivery of postal votes from London and Dublin to Kuala Lumpur. Their last shipment will be arriving in KLIA today, 8 May.
2. Global Bersih volunteers are also offering to collect completed ballot papers and to fly them back to Malaysia from various countries such as Hong Kong and Australia. You can check the schedule here.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom & Eire Council of Malaysian Students (UKEC) is offering subsidies for the delivery charges of postal voting, to ease the financial burden of postal voters.
While KPUM ASASI is collecting information from affected postal voters via a survey in order to lodge a complaint against the EC, another Facebook group called GE14: Postal Voters Discussion has formed a list of Malaysians in cities around the world for voters who need a witness' signature for their ballot papers, or for help to deliver votes back to Malaysia.
To stay updated, check out the latest GE14 news on SAYS: