World

BN using 'army camps' to boost voter numbers: Bersih

Reform group accuses ruling party of bolstering weak constituencies with staunch supporters

KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia's electoral reform group Bersih and the opposition are claiming that the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition is allegedly bringing in voters secretly to its weak constituencies.

The issue came to light recently when 1,051 military men and their wives were apparently registered as voters at an army camp that is still under construction in Johor's Segamat constituency.

That seat was won in 2013 by Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam, president of BN's Malaysian Indian Congress, by just 3 percentage points, or 1,217 votes.

Bersih has claimed that two other constituencies with uncompleted army camps had also added more than 1,000 army voters each.

These allegedly involved the wards of Cabinet ministers Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in Perak and Ismail Sabri Yaakob in Pahang.

For years, the opposition has claimed that BN would secretly transfer the voting addresses of police, army or other civil servants, along with their spouses, to some constituencies to give the ruling coalition an extra boost in the polls.

The uniformed services and the civil service, consisting of mostly Malays, are staunch BN supporters.

But the claims of illegal transfer of voters have often been pooh-poohed by BN as sour grapes by the opposition when they failed to win in targeted districts.

In the Johor case, the chief of the opposition Democratic Action Party for the state, Mr Liew Chin Tong, said he complained to Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein early this month about the 1,051 "military personnel and their spouses" whose residential addresses have been added into the unfinished camp.

The registration makes them voters in the Segamat Parliament seat and the two accompanying state wards of Jementah and Buloh Kasap.

"The Segamat camp is only due to be completed in April 2018," Mr Liew wrote on his blog last week.

NO LOGIC

Mr Hishammuddin, in his response, told the media: "It is... crazy to transfer military personnel without preparing housing there because those sent there will not vote for us.

"Logically speaking, that makes no sense."

He has asked his army chief to respond to the allegation.

Bersih at a news conference on Tuesday said it has discovered more new army voters being transferred into two camps in Hutan Melintang, Perak and Bera in Pahang state.

Both camps are also still under construction.

Bersih deputy chairman Shahrul Aman Mohd Shaari was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying that 1,234 new army voters were found to be registered in the Bera parliamentary seat held by Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri.

He had won the seat by 5.2 percentage points.

A further 1,411 new army voters have been registered in Hutan Melintang, under the Bagan Datoh parliamentary constituency held by Deputy Prime Minister Zahid, who won in 2013 by 6.5 percentage points.

The discovery was made after analysing the government's 2017 third-quarter Supplementary Electoral Roll, Mr Shahrul said.

Both ministers have not responded to the allegations. 
- THE STRAITS TIMES

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