Borneo post front page, 25 March 2009.
We’ll track them even to their graves, says election watchdog
KUCHING: Election watchdog Malaysians For Free and Fair Election (Mafrel) is to send its men to Batang Ai to track down 26 voters who were aged 90 years and above, including the oldest one aged 111 years old.
Based on the electoral roll to be used for the by-election, Mafrel claimed the oldest voter was a female born in the year 1898 and listed under Kutai polling district.
Mafrel’s deputy head of observation mission for Batang Ai by-election Lawrence Gamjap said if the voters were no longer living, their names must be cleared from the electoral roll to prevent outsiders from casting votes.
“We will deploy our men on March 28 to track down these voters. If they are dead, we will visit their graves. But if they are alive, then prove it to us,” he said when met here yesterday.
There are 8,006 registered voters including 43 postal voters for the Batang Ai by-election.
Lawrence also claimed that out of the 8,006 registered voters, 96 per cent or 7,117 of them are without complete addresses or untraceable.
He said this was the highest percentage of untraceable voters ever encountered by Mafrel since it started to monitor elections in Sarawak in 2006.
“Thus, we doubt the authenticity of these voters whether they really belong to those polling areas,” he said.
According to Lawrence again, Mafrel will be sending 70 personnel including volunteers to monitor the Batang Ai by-election.
Most of them, he said, would be stationed at the 24 polling stations.
“We want to make sure the election process is clean and free from any practice that is against any regulation,” he said.
The Election Commission has fixed March 29 as nomination day for the by-election, and April 7 for polling shall there be contest.
Thus far, Barisan Nasional (BN) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) have confirmed their candidates for Batang Ai.
A newcomer, engineer Malcolm Mussen Lamoh from Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) will be the candidate from BN, while PKR will be represented by former five- time Lubok Antu MP Jawah Gerang.
A blogger Johnny Chuat has expressed his intention to contest, but has yet to confirm his candidacy.
The by-election was to be held following the death of incumbent Datuk Dublin Unting Ingkot, a state assistant minister and PRS vice-president, on Feb 24.
In a press conference on March 3 to announce the dates for Batang Ai by-election, EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said they have agreed to allow Mafrel to act as an observer during the by-election.
“Mafrel has been with us in many elections. And we recognise the role played by Mafrel,” he said.