Friday, August 10, 2007

Chronicles of MacamMana?

I'm writing this blog in order to ask for advice. I am not quite sure on how to proceed at the moment. If anyone has any ideas, please contact me either via the comments, or the email listed in the side-bar.

I wish to exercise the most sacred of democratic duties, which is to cast my ballot during a general election. It is a legally protected right and I wish to exercise it. I am a registered voter, and the last time I checked online, I was still on the active list. However, seeing that I would still need to be here for another year, I was hoping to register myself as a postal vote. That's when the story begins.

The first thing that I did was to contact the Malaysian High Commission (Hi-Comm), here in London. I have to commend them for replying my email enquiry fairly promptly and professionally each time. However, in their first reply, they referred me to the legislation page on the SPR website, and told me that according to the regulations, only "government Officer/Staff on posting are eligible to vote post."

Not satisfied, I informed the officer (who shall remain nameless) that I had already read the regulations I was pointed to. Under Elections (Postal Voting) Regulations 2003, Part II, Paragraph 3(1)(a), it says that:

Persons entitled to vote as postal voters
3. (1) Any person who has registered as a Parliamentary or State elector under the Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002, and is -
(a) an absent voter;
Looking up the meaning of "absent voter" in the beginning of the Elections (Postal Voting) Regulations 2003, Part I, Paragraph 2, it defines:
"postal voter" means any person entitled to vote under regulation 3;
"absent voter" has the meaning assigned to it in the Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002 [P.U.(A) 293/2002];
Looking up further in the Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002, Part I, Paragraph 2(e), it defines:
"absent voter" means a citizen who has attained the age of twenty-one years on the qualifying date and is-
(e) engaged in full-time studies at any university, training college or any higher educational institution outside the boundaries of Peninsular Malaysia or Sabah or Sarawak; or"
Aha! That clearly covers my situation. I am a citizen that is currently registered as a full-time student at a foreign university. I thought that it was a fairly straight forward matter. So, I wrote back to the Hi-Comm pointing out all the relevant regulations. I asked the officer to point me out the relevant paragraphs that disqualify me, if the Hi-Comm insists that I am not allowed to vote.

In reply, the officer pointed out to me the exact regulations that I had pointed out, that say everything that I have already said. The full lists of all the people qualified for postal vote are:
  1. an absent voter
  2. election officers
  3. members of the police
  4. members of any public service posted outside our country
  5. members of the Election Commission
  6. any other members designated by the Election Commission from time to time.
And the list of absent voters include Malaysian citizens who are:
  1. members of the arm forces of Malaysia or any Commonwealth country
  2. their spouses
  3. public servants serving outside Malaysia.
  4. and their spouses
  5. full-time students outside Malaysia.
  6. and their spouses.
So, it seems like either I'm confused, or the officer was. And as such, the officer recommended that I contact the SPR directly for further clarifications. The officer gave me the public email for the SPR that I could use. So, I duly composed and wrote my email to the SPR, highlighting the fact that I had already been in contact with the Hi-Comm, and also pointing out the relevant regulations that qualify me to vote. In return, this is what I got:
I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.
< > :
Sorry, no mailbox here by that name. vpopmail (#5.1.1)
So, the SPR is unreachable via email. Even though the mailbox is listed on their website, it doesn't even exist. I am wary against calling them up by phone as it's an overseas phone call. I might be able to pay them a personal visit when I go home for my 2-week break next month. However, I have a lot of other things that need attending to as well.

I'm merely a citizen trying to exercise my legally protected democratic right to vote. The fact that my circumstances are clearly spelled out under the regulations, I cannot understand the push around that I'm getting. So, I need some useful advice on how to proceed.

PS: The saga is not over yet. Hopefully, I can visit the SPR and get a clarification and resolution. I just hate being pushed-around.


chia said...

Hi Shawn,
Chia Huei here from The Cicak. Now if only I found your blog page last night, before posting up the same stuff (in a less organized manner!). I guess I'm not the only one lost. I'm back in KL now.. tried to register at the Subang Jaya Post Office a few hours ago. But surprise surprise, it's not possible to register an overseas mailing address! If I want to vote by post, I have to register at the SPR at Putrajaya, and apparently that's the only way I can get my overseas mailing address into the system. (and i'm gonna have to do this every single time i move!!!!) I'm studying in Switzerland and I think the High Comm in Bern is even less informed than their counterparts in London. Do let me know if you get any useful info, or maybe we should go to the SPR together and get some answers.

Shawn Tan said...

Oh, thanks for the update. So, at least I know that we have to visit the main office at PutraJaya. If you want to go together, please send me an email. I'm not back in M'sia yet though.