KUALA LUMPUR - The first wave of voting for Malaysia's May 9 general election has started, with the police, members of the media and other personnel in eligible categories of civil service casting their ballots.
Early voting began for some 111,702 police personnel nationwide on Saturday (May 5), The Star reported.
Malaysia's police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun and his deputy Noor Rashid Ibrahim were seen arriving to cast their votes at a polling centre in Bukit Aman, the official Bernama news agency said.
Meanwhile, some 5,854 personnel had already sent in their postal votes on Friday.
The early voting process starts at 9am and ends at 5pm on Saturday.
Also casting their ballots were those overseas registered with the Election Commission (EC). In the 2013 general election, 8,756 Malaysians overseas registered to vote by post.
More than 300,000 people, including mainly police and armed forces personnel, will be casting their votes early this general election, said EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah on Friday. "The process will be monitored by party agents and observers," he said in a statement.
At the police headquarters in Bukit Aman, two voting centres have been set up.
Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi, the Inspector-General of Police, told reporters on Friday that 7,695 retired police personnel were among the early voters. "They were categorised as such because they were still registered to vote at their respective police contingents," he said.
Mr Mohamad Fuzi, together with Deputy-Inspector General of Police Noor Rashid Ibrahim, on Friday visited one of the polling centres where postal voting was done.
He assured personnel that their vote, like all other votes, would be secret.
"We do not decide which party our personnel should vote for," he said. "They will decide. It is their right to vote for the party they choose."
On Friday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak urged police and military personnel going for early voting to decide on their party by taking into account what the government has done for them and the country.
"The fact is, real 'harapan' (hope) is with Barisan Nasional," said Datuk Seri Najib, who is also chairman of the ruling BN coalition.
Mr Najib writing in a post on his official blog also said the Government had never prohibited, restrained nor directed the security forces personnel on how they should vote. He added that the opposition does not appreciate the deeds and sacrifices of Malaysia's security forces and often ridiculed the functions and responsibilities of civil servants.
His rival Mahathir Mohamad, who is leading the Pakatan Harapan opposition alliance, had also written an open letter that was posted on his Facebook account on Wednesday to the top brass of the military and police.
"It is the duty of every citizen including the members of the armed forces to choose a government that is responsible, trustworthy and has integrity. They must be given the freedom to choose," he wrote in the letter.
Separately, Mr Mohamad Fuzi said 860 police reports had been lodged since campaigning for the country's 14th General Election began. "The brunt of the cases reported involved sabotage of party posters and banners," he said.
"There are also cases of setting campaign items and centres on fire such as in Perlis, Kedah and Melaka," he said, adding that 17 people were arrested, including one in Yong Peng for causing hurt and one in Sabah for impersonating a civil servant.