Overseas voters in rush to get voices heard

Singapore-based Malaysians boarding coaches at Golden Mile Complex yesterday for the journey home to cast their votes today.
Singapore-based Malaysians boarding coaches at Golden Mile Complex yesterday for the journey home to cast their votes today.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

When Malaysian citizen Agnes Koay, who lives in Taiwan, received her balloting slip in the post on Monday evening, she did not think she could send it back home in time to cast her vote today - even with the help of a courier.

Thanks to a complex chain of events - involving Facebook and a friend of a friend - it now seems she will get her voice heard, though others may not be so lucky.

Reports have surfaced that many Malaysians living abroad, who had registered as postal voters, received their balloting slips with only a few days left before Polling Day today.

Postal voting is for the police, armed forces, employees of nine other government departments, members of the media, and Malaysians residing overseas, except in Singapore, southern Thailand, Brunei and Kalimantan.

For Mrs Koay, 37, voting in her home country's elections was of paramount importance.

The stay-at-home mother turned to social media to find someone who was going to Singapore who could pass the slip to her sister, Ms Stacey Low, 40.

She managed to get in touch with Mr Seer Jin Chian, who flew from Taipei to Singapore and passed the slip to Ms Low, a financing sales leader who drove to Ipoh yesterday to cast her vote today.

Mr Seer himself is going to great lengths to vote. The 25-year-old university student, who flew here first as it was cheaper than flying to Malaysia - will catch a train to Kranji, then take a bus to Johor.

A grateful Mrs Koay said: "Every single vote counts. We all just want to make a difference, even though it may just be another one."

Yesterday, throngs of Malaysians started heading home to vote in today's election.

Ms Joyce Sune, 27, a student counsellor who left around 1pm in a bid to beat the rush, said: "I have a sense of responsibility to go back and fulfil my part as a Malaysian citizen."

There were long queues at the land checkpoints here, and bus companies said they had put on more trips to accommodate the surge in passengers.

And while some on social media had suggested that travellers to Malaysia had been affected by problems with clearance at land checkpoints, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said: "This is not true. ICA would like to clarify that there are no issues with our clearance systems."

• Additional reporting by Khoe Wei Jun

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2018, with the headline 'Overseas voters in rush to get voices heard'. Print Edition | Subscribe