Mahathir alleges evidence of 'phantom voters' in Malaysia's electoral rolls

Dr Mahathir Mohamad said there are 900 voters with the same name of Fatimah Ismail who had the same date of birth listed in the electoral roll.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad said there are 900 voters with the same name of Fatimah Ismail who had the same date of birth listed in the electoral roll.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has alleged the existence of so-called phantom voters in the country's electoral roll.

There are 900 voters with the same name of Fatimah Ismail who had the same date of birth listed in the electoral roll, according to Tun Dr Mahathir, as quoted by The Malaysian Insight (TMI) news site on Monday (Jan 15). He now heads a year-old opposition party.

Dr Mahathir added that nine million voters in the electoral roll were registered without their full addresses. There were about 13 million registered voters in 2013.

"There are those with house numbers but no road names, there are also those with road names but no house numbers. There is also a house where the number of registered voters are more than 70."

"And we checked one address in Alor Setar where there are 11 registered voters, but when we got there, there are only two. We do not know where the rest are coming from," said Dr Mahathir, as quoted by TMI.

He was speaking at the launch of a Kuala Lumpur division of his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) on Sunday evening.

Claims about phantom voters - people who are illegally registered as voters in some districts to allegedly vote for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition - are often aired by the opposition just before elections.

The issue is likely to be hotly debated again this time around, with Dr Mahathir having led the government for 22 years as prime minister until 2003.

Additionally, one of the two PPBM vice-presidents is Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, who was chief of the Election Commission between 2000 an 2008. The work of the EC, an agency under the Prime Minister's Department, includes updating the electoral roll.

Dr Mahathir in his speech also claimed that some 1,000 voters in Langkawi constituency in Kedah have been registered to vote in the state capital Alor Setar - more than two hours away by ferry and car - to dissuade them from voting.

The 92-year-old has said that he is likely to contest in the Langkawi constituency, which consists of the tourist island of the same name, or in two other seats.

"When they go to the normal polling station and found out that their names were not there and that they need to travel to Alor Setar (to vote), they might not go as they do not have the time," he was quoted by TMI as saying.

The cheapest means of transportation is by ferry to Kuala Kedah at RM23 (S$7.70) for adults.

A one-way ferry trip takes about one hour and 45 minutes.

"Thousands of Langkawi voters will not cast their votes because their polling stations are too far. It is Najib's hope that it will make PH lose 1,000 votes," said Dr Mahathir, referring to Prime Minister Najib Razak and the opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan.

The former prime minister said Langkawi is not an isolated incident and similar things are happening nationwide.