Malaysia election: Malaysians abroad fret over whether their postal votes can reach on time

A police officer casts his ballot during the early voting ahead of the 14th general election on May 9, at Bukit Aman police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, on May 5, 2018.
A police officer casts his ballot during the early voting ahead of the 14th general election on May 9, at Bukit Aman police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, on May 5, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Nearly 4,000 Malaysians abroad are eligible for postal voting at the country's election but many are worried their ballot papers may not reach their voting stations in time due to the short campaign period.

Within the 11 days between nomination and election, they have to wait for the ballot papers to be printed, posted to them and then mail them back to reach the Election Commission before the May 9 polls.

Adrian Chan, 27, said his ballot papers have yet to arrive at his residence in Coventry, Britain.

 

"I'm getting anxious, and I am not sure if my ballot can reach Malaysia on time (for May 9)," said the student, adding that unless he uses a courier service, first class mail from the UK to Malaysia normally takes between five and eight days.

He felt that the campaign period was not long enough to allow ballot papers to reach overseas voters and be returned to Malaysia on time.

"I'm excited that I am given the opportunity to vote even though I am overseas. But there just isn't enough time," he said. "The ballot papers can only reach our returning officers' address on time if we use a courier service, which can cost more than £60 (S$108, RM320)," he said.

Stay-at-home mother Joanne Beer, who also lives in Britain, was excited about the prospect of postal voting as it was troublesome for her to travel to the Malaysian Embassy in London to vote.

"I don't live in London and with an 18-month-old baby, it would be challenging for me," said the 39-year-old.

However, she has yet to receive her ballot papers and may have to go to the courier's collection centre to pick up her mail - a journey that would take her one-and-a-half hours.

International politics postgraduate student Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, 40, said she has also not received her ballot and does not have any news of when it will arrive.

"I'm really hoping that it arrives tomorrow (Friday)," she said.

After receiving her ballot papers on Thursday, student Qistina Kamaruddin, 28, is racing against time to make sure that her vote reaches Malaysia within six days.

"I saw that the courier firm is charging £33 for the delivery. My constituency is Lembah Pantai, a hot seat. For me, every vote counts so I'm going to make sure that it gets in," she said.

To reduce the financial burden of postal voters, the United Kingdom & Eire Council of Malaysian Students (UKEC) is offering subsidies for the delivery charges of postal voting.

Medical student Susan Yee, who is in Australia, said she has been notified that her ballot papers would arrive on Monday (May 7).

"I will have limited time to post it and I don't know how long it takes for the vote to reach Malaysia as well," she said.

Yap Tsu Sheng, 26, believes that more options, such as embassy voting, should be made available to overseas voters.

"I think this is just a big mess because the timeline is so tight that it doesn't make sense," said the Bukit Bendera constituent.

"I was very much looking forward to this day. We are less than a week away from GE14 and I still have not received my ballot. It is quite disappointing," said Yap, who is undertaking his Bar exam.

Another student, Lim Hui Ying, 33, said the delivery of her ballot was delayed - by Japan's Golden Week, a week marked by public holidays.

"The campaign period needs to be longer so that our mail can reach respective returning officers within the allocated time frame," she said, adding that she was otherwise satisfied with the postal voting process.