News / Asia

Allegations of Foul Play in Cliffhanger Malaysia Election

Women line up to vote at a polling station at Penanti in Penang state in northern Malaysia, May 5, 2013.
Women line up to vote at a polling station at Penanti in Penang state in northern Malaysia, May 5, 2013.
Kate Lamb
For the first time since its independence from Britain in 1957, Malaysia could see a change in government after Sunday's election. But as citizens thronged to polling booths, allegations of electoral foul play were rampant.
 
Undeterred by the intense tropical heat and long lines, Malaysia’s polling booths were inundated with eager voters Sunday morning.
 
The election is the closest ever in the country’s history and has seen a record number of registered voters.
 
Formerly apathetic 34-year-old Camilla Das voted for the first time Sunday. “I kind of figured you know, probably my vote actually makes a difference, so that’s why I didn’t want it to go to waste,” she said.
 
Like Camilla, more than 3 million Malaysians will likely vote for the first time Sunday, with young Malaysians expected to have a big impact on the final result.

Close race
 
On the eve of the election, a poll by the Merdeka Center indicated that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had a slight edge over Prime Minister Najib Razak.
 
The survey released Friday showed that Anwar looked set to win 89 out of 222 parliamentary seats, compared to 85 for Najib’s ruling Barisan National coalition.
 
As the competition has intensified over recent weeks, so too have allegations of electoral foul play. This year, indelible ink was introduced to prevent electoral fraud, but many voters reported that it was fallible.  
 
At a polling booth in Kuala Lumpur Sunday morning, Simitha Singan put it to the test with some detergent, saying, “So I was like I want to try it out myself. So we did it and it came out.”

Outsiders coming in?
 
Stories of foreigners being flown in and given Malaysian identity cards, or ICs, so they can vote for the incumbent government have also circulated heavily on online news websites.
 
Ng Sek San, a polling observer overseeing a team of volunteers that is verifying voter information, says there are doubts about the integrity of the election.
 
“I think there is a lot of evidence out there, whether it is on the net or photographs and things like that," he said. "There are a lot of inconsistencies coming through to us. A lot of people that have been flown in from other states, some of them are not even Malaysian citizens, and they were just given temporary identity cards. And of course there is a lot of money politics and vote buying.”
 
Simitha Singan, who works for the Independent Center for Independent Journalism in Kuala Lumpur, even claims that she spoke to a phantom voter Saturday.
 
“I am very sure this election is not going to be free and fair because yesterday I saw a Bangladeshi on the road and I asked him, ‘so are you going to vote tomorrow’ and he like, ‘yeah, I’m going to vote.’ And I was like, ‘how are you going to vote, do you have an IC and he’s like ha ha ha, yeh, actually I have an IC.’ And he was bravely telling me that so I’m very sure it is not going to be a clean election, but I just hope people decide wisely. We’ve had 56 years of nonsense and I think it’s about time we change that nonsense,” said Singan.

Government says vote will be fair

But Prime Minister Najib says he is committed to a fair election, and allegations that foreigners have been flown in to vote for his government are baseless.
 
After the morning shift manning the ballot box in a tightly contested electorate, 37-year-old bank auditor Michael Yap agreed, saying, “So far I have seen that the process has been conducted very fairly thoroughly, in a very transparent manner and a diligent manner. Everyone is very cooperative towards the process.”
 
The ruling coalition Barisan National has campaigned heavily on the promise of continued political stability and strong economic growth.
 
Rallying against rising living costs, pro-Malay policies and what he says is a corrupt and nepotistic government, former deputy prime minister turned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says the country has had enough.
 
It is a sentiment that 56-year-old surveyor Kwong Hai Foo cannot help but agree with - even though he says he has been happy with the current government’s performance. 
 
“I think they did a good job but I think they can be better than what it is at the present," said Kwong. "So I think for 55 years they have done quite bit. Maybe we should give the other party a chance so that at least they can show us what they can do for the people.”
 
The Malaysian government is the world’s longest serving democratic government.
 
Preliminary results of Sunday’s election are expected as early as Sunday evening.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Nigerians Await New President With High Hopes

When pomp and circumstance of inauguration end in Abuja, Buhari will sit down to the hard task of governing Nigeria More

India's Restrictions on Several NGOs Raise Concerns

Political analysts link recent clampdown on advocacy groups to report last year that said foreign-funded NGO’s negatively impact economic development More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous from: malaysia
May 06, 2013 1:19 AM
It was totally an unfair and dirty election! and we the malaysians know it but we can't do anything..

by: Vee
May 05, 2013 11:07 PM
The only phantom is in the mind of the anti-establishment. Overzealousness and ultra kiasuism tricks the eyes. People with darker skin, aborigines, indians have been accused as phantom just because they not were as flashy as the urbanites. Ironically, despite the "gerrymandering", the opposition have won in 3 states and 40% of the federal votes. More like a sour grape to me.




by: SYeo from: Kuala Lumpur
May 05, 2013 1:18 PM
Many foreign voters has turn up with Malaysian IC and came to vote for BN. Most of them come from Bangladesh, Burma and Indonesia. They were given money and most of them are not even voting for their own constituency as per their identification card. As many as 4 bus load full was seen in voting center with Malaysian Police escorting them. Please see it for yourself this video posted Facebook, a interview from a Bangladeshi admitting that BN is using dirty tricks to win the election. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151349618531746&set=vb.531241745&type=2&theater
In Response

by: Anonymous
May 05, 2013 4:49 PM
It is certainly not a fair game..

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs