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Thread: SPR: Malaysians Overseas Right to Vote or MyOverseasVote

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    SPR: Malaysians Overseas Right to Vote or MyOverseasVote

    Malaysians Overseas Right to Vote or MyOverseasVote

    Sunday, 03 October 2010 Super Admin

    A campaign to extend the right to vote to all Malaysian citizens living and working outside Malaysia is launched today by a group of Malaysians in London. The campaign group, Malaysians Overseas Right to Vote or MyOverseasVote, aims to conduct an education campaign and to circulate a petition in order to raise awareness of the civil rights and responsibilities of Malaysian citizens overseas, and to raise funds for a legal challenge against the regulations preventing most Malaysians overseas from registering as absent voters.

    Article 119 of the Federal Constitution grants the right to vote to all Malaysian citizens of the age of 21 and over who are resident and registered in a constituency or who are registered as absent voters in accordance with election laws. However, regulations made by the Election Commission exclude the vast majority of the estimated one million Malaysians living overseas who work overseas in the private sector or for international organisations, or who are retired or unemployed, from registering as absent voters.

    At present, only students, government servants and members of the Armed Forces and their spouses living overseas have the right to cast their vote by post. Other Malaysians living overseas can only vote if they register to vote in Malaysia and physically return to Malaysia to cast their ballots on election day. This effectively prevents most Malaysians overseas from exercising their right to vote, given that elections are called with only a few weeks notice, and given that it would be physically impossible for hundreds of thousands of Malaysians to fly back en masse to vote, as well as being beyond the means of those with low incomes. There is at present no provision for Malaysians overseas to vote at Malaysian embassies and consulates abroad, which is routinely done by many other countries.

    The MyOverseasVote campaign is committed to challenging the unequal treatment of the majority of Malaysians overseas on the grounds that it is contrary to the grant of equality under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution. It seeks to raise RM200,000 from Malaysians (20 sen for every Malaysian overseas) to create a legal fund for its action. This will cover the legal fees and expenses needed to take the claim all the way to the Federal Court, and cover the contingency that the applicants, if unsuccessful, are forced to cover the Election Commissions legal costs.

    MyOverseasVote campaigns for the rights of all Malaysians overseas regardless of political orientation. The campaign will make a presentation to supporters of Pakatan Rakyat in London on 2 October 2010, and to supporters of Barisan Nasional at a future date.


    Over 1 million Malaysians are estimated to work outside Malaysia. Of this, roughly 40% work in Singapore and 20% in other Asian countries.

    There are 11 million registered voters in Malaysia, out of a potential electorate of 15 million.

    Under the Election (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002, only members of the Armed Forces, public servants, students and their spouses living overseas are eligible to register and vote as absent voters.

    Our legal advice is that the discriminatory provisions are an abuse of the Election Commissions discretion under the law and a violation of the grant of equality under the Federal Constitution.

    To end discrimination against Malaysian citizens living and working outside Malaysia.

    To re-enfranchise all Malaysian citizens overseas, and to re-engage them in charting the future course of Malaysia.

    To launch an educational campaign and a petition, to raise public awareness amongst Malaysians both overseas and at home.

    To bring legal proceedings against the Election Commission challenging the discriminatory provisions in the 2002 Regulations.

    Sign up to our Facebook page Malaysians Overseas Right to Vote or follow our Twitter feed @MyOverseasVote.

    Pledge a donation / get involved by emailing . We are looking to raise RM200,000 in order to cover legal fees, disbursements and a contingency fund in case we are ordered to pay adverse costs.
    This press release was written by Andrew Yong, Yolanda Augustin, See-See Leong and David Arasnath Kimis

    London, UK

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Absentee voters want to be counted

    HUNDREDS of thousands of Malaysians living overseas have been locked out of voting in every federal election since 2002 because Malaysian law has discriminated against them.

    Laws under which the Election Commission operates only allow four categories of citizens living abroad to cast their votes as "absent voters", defined in general terms as registered voters living outside of Malaysia. These absent-voter categories cover only military personnel, public servants, full-time students and their spouses, who may participate in elections by lodging their votes with their high commissions or consulates.

    All other citizens living abroad are not considered absent voters and, by exclusion in law, cannot use a diplomatic office to vote they have no choice but return to Malaysia whenever an election is called.

    But just as a potentially huge voting force is fenced off from the most basic democratic process, a growing movement of Malaysians who want to be counted in federal elections has taken shape. Since 2008, when the last Malaysian vote saw the Barisan Nasional government lose its two-third majority which for 53 years had allowed a ruling coalition to rewrite the Federal Constitution at will Malaysians from Australia to England and elsewhere have been agitating for their right to become absent voters.

    Andrew Yong, co-ordinator of MyOverseasVote, a campaign founded in London, is in Malaysia exploring legal avenues to rectify the constitutional deficiency and extend voting rights to all Malaysians living overseas.

    The MOV website,, states: "Our legal advice is that the discriminatory provisions are an abuse of the election commissions discretion under the law and a violation of the grant of equality under the Federal Constitution."

    The campaign further lists as its objectives, "To end discrimination against Malaysian citizens who are living outside Malaysia, re-enfranchise Malaysian citizens overseas and to re-engage them in charting the future course of Malaysia."

    John Khoo, founder of Sabmoz (Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia Australia) in Sydney, says: "Malaysian citizens simply want to participate in the future.

    "The right to vote is a fundamental tenet of a practising democracy it is the right of the people to choose their political representatives and, by extension, their government."

    Disturbingly, according to Khoo, diplomatic offices in some countries have turned away full-time students, eligible under EC law, who have wanted to register as absent voters in their countries of residence. News has emerged, through a network of like-minded Malaysian organisations, that full-time students who have wanted to register as absent voters have been told only "government scholars" are eligible.

    Medical student Amanda Lim was a 21-year-old registered voter in London before the last election. Unable to fly home to vote, she applied to her embassy for a postal vote, but was rejected "I was told that this would not be possible as I wasnt a government scholar," she said.

    "I felt extremely insulted. My parents work hard and pay taxes in Malaysia, and I worked hard to earn a place to study medicine at Kings College, London.

    "I intend to return to serve my country. So I find this kind of discrimination really gutting. It puts people off voting and discourages the young from returning to Malaysia."

    The frustration with the EC is palpable and growing, as is the gnawing suspicion that a ruling BN is ever reluctant to open the election franchise to all Malaysians living abroad after all, todays privileged absent voters owe their livelihood, their very salaries, to the serving government; ditto "government scholars".

    But the voices of agitation have not gone unheard. An Election Commission official said in a telephone interview on Nov 25: "EC is aware of the issue. Malaysians have contacted us to raise this issue. We are looking at it seriously."

    However, when asked if change to the law was imminent, the commission said a statement would be forthcoming. At time of publication, no statement had been issued.

    But Yong and Khoo are not waiting. MyOverseasVote in London is also calling to "bring legal proceedings against the election commission challenging the discriminatory provisions in the 2002 regulations".

    In Australia, Khoo and equally determined Malaysians have set up SABM chapters in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide, with the collective objective of, among other goals, giving Sabmoz a voice on behalf of Malaysians who want to be considered absent voters by the election commission, not absentees in the voting system.

    So far, all the pushing is coming from the ground up, and Opposition politicians visiting Australia on fund-raisers and awareness campaigns appear to be embracing pragmatism an election could be only months away, leaving little time for legislative change in favour of a more strident and public call for equal treatment of all Malaysians by the commission.

    Most recently, Anwar Ibrahim himself, the de facto leader of Pakatan Rakyat visited Sydney. He made no mention of the postal vote at a dinner for which about 150 had paid for the privilege of sharing an evening with a man whose political trajectory has seen him go from being prime minister-in-waiting to prisoner to PM-hopeful again. The Opposition leader said he hoped to return in a different capacity soon, and to that end implored the faithfully gathered to do whatever they can, give some money, send a message, blog. Then he went as far as to mirror previous PR visitors to the New South Wales capital city, who implored Malaysians to "fly back and vote".

    But if the Malaysians now striving to bring change from without have their way, the nations absentee voters may not have to pay to vote.

    Yolanda Augustin, a supporter of Friends of Pakatan Rakyat in Britain, minces no words in summing up the shared sentiment: "We are committed to seeing the growth of democracy, transparency and good governance in Malaysia.

    "This has to start with clean, free and fair elections. The commissions discriminatory practices with regards to overseas voting rights are neither fair nor free."

    William de Cruz is a journalist in Australia and Greg Lopez is a PhD scholar at the Crawford School of Economics and Government, Australian National University. Comments:

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Overseas Malaysians to sue EC over non-voting rights

    Overseas Malaysians to sue EC over non-voting rights

    Fri, 24 Dec 2010 12:58

    By Teoh El Sen

    PETALING JAYA: A group of Malaysians demanding voting rights for all citizens living abroad are planning to bring the Election Commission and the government to court.

    MyOverseasVote (MOV) international coordinator Andrew Yong (photo) told FMT that the group is looking to file the suit in the first half of 2011.

    MOV or 'Malaysians Overseas Right to Vote is a campaign that was recently kicked off in London and aims to encourage Malaysians living or working abroad to vote.

    It is also raising funds to legally challenge 'discriminatory' regulations preventing many Malaysians overseas from registering as 'absent voters'.

    "We want the court to say that the current regulations are against Article 8 of the federal constitution, which guarantees equal treatment for all citizens under the law.

    "We want the court to declare that the Malaysian government and the Election Commision cannot discriminate against citizens abroad from voting on arbitrary grounds," said Yong.

    Under the Election (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002, only members of the Armed Forces, public servants, students on government scholarships and their spouses living overseas are eligible to register and vote as absent voters.

    "We believe that there are no rational grounds for the government to say that only people working for the government can vote. We believe in the principle of 'one citizen, one vote'," said Yong.

    "To date, we have collected about 10% of the RM200,000 required legal fees to cover everything right up to the Federal Court and includes costs in the event we lose the suit.

    "Currently, the 10% is sufficient to launch the action and get it through the first few stages," said Yong.

    Though there are people ready to be litigants, MOV is now looking for more Malaysians abroad to better represent the wide spectrum of people denied voting rights, said Yong.

    "We have people in the UK and we need people in the US and Australia to volunteer as litigants. We are looking at professionals and people of the lower income group as they are the ones who are not financially able to return to vote," he said.

    Election Commission being unreasonable

    Yong said MOV has already engaged severals lawyers in the Malaysia, including prominent human rights lawyer Edmund Bon, who has agreed to take up the suit.

    "We want Malaysians to be really involved and we're conducting campaigns. There's no point in us winning the suit if we don't have people voting."

    About 20,000 students overseas are facing problems. In London, students wanting to register were told that they had to be students sponsored by the government to be registered as absent voters.

    He added that the Election Commission was also not facilitating the registration through embassies and had not responded to applications in several cases since 2008.

    Yong said: This is unfair. Are certain people special and the rest of us don't count? Does the Election Commision automatically link government workers to the BN government?"

    "There are so many Malaysians who have been out of the country from five to 15 years and they could've easily become British or US citizens but chose to remain Malaysians. But for some reason they are being denied the right to vote. It's unreasonable.

    Yong said in his own case, he studied law in London and he could vote after he was 21, but when he was in private practice, couldn't, and was eligible when he continued his masters.

    "For me, I was in a position where I couldn't vote, can vote, couldn't vote, then can vote again," said Yong, who recently returned to Malaysia after being in the UK for 15 years.

    There are 11 million registered voters in Malaysia, out of a potential electorate of 15 million.

    Over one million Malaysians are estimated to live and work outside Malaysia and this, MOV said, could potentially provide an 8-9% increase in total voters. FreeMalaysiaToday....

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