Overseas voting goes well after bumpy start

A Malaysian voter in Beijing casting his ballot yesterday. It was the first time ever that overseas Malaysians were able to vote in the country’s elections from a foreign location. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PUTRAJAYA – After reports of initial hiccups at some overseas booths, postal voting went smoothly in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and China, with as many as 60 per cent registered Malaysian voters casting their vote for the May 5 general election.

The historic voting was the first time ever that overseas Malaysians - estimated to be around one million - have voted in the country's elections from a foreign location, a privilege otherwise set aside only for civil servants and others.

Voters started trickling in from 9am local time in each country and had up till 8pm to cast their ballots in the 103 missions worldwide.

As many as 6,339 are registered to vote.

Nearly 200 Malaysians in New York had cast their votes last Saturday, The Star newspaper reported, while those in New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Australia and other places began casting their votes yesterday.

However, confusion and anger marked the start of the vote in Melbourne, which has one of the largest number of Malaysians in Australia, after voters with identity cards and passports were refused entry into the consulate by security guards, the Malaysian Insider reported.

Voters who did not carry printouts of their eligibility letters from the Election Commission (EC) had to use their smartphones and other devices to log into the EC website and show their status to the guards before being allowed to vote.

Many Malaysians reportedly travelled long distances to vote, some buying air tickets to fly from their city of residence to the city where their names appeared in the voting list.

EC secretary Kamaruddin Mohamed Baria said "the postal vote process (went)... smoothly".

The postal voting applies to all countries except for Malaysians residing in Singapore, southern Thailand, Brunei and Kalimantan in Indonesia.