Tensions flare amid e-voting glitches in Malaysia's PKR polls

Glitches led to the postponement of voting in eight out of 15 branch elections in Kedah. Slow-moving and long queues added to the tension, and four suspects are being investigated for a rioting incident which left a man with minor head injuries.
Glitches led to the postponement of voting in eight out of 15 branch elections in Kedah. Slow-moving and long queues added to the tension, and four suspects are being investigated for a rioting incident which left a man with minor head injuries.PHOTO: GUANG MING DAILY NEWS

Four probed for rioting in Kedah; two other states postpone voting

The heat of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) elections was felt across the states of Kedah and Penang yesterday, with unrest reported at a number of polling stations after glitches developed in the new electronic voting system.

The party was also forced to postpone the polls in Perak and Perlis.

Members of the PKR, the dominant partner in Malaysia's ruling coalition, had turned out to vote on the first day of the party's internal elections, but technical glitches and long queues soured the mood.

In Kedah, four men aged between 20 and 50 had allegedly turned aggressive after becoming restless while waiting for their turn to vote, according to Kuala Muda police chief Adzli Abu Shah.

"The incident occurred after the e-voting system went down. But even after it was restored, we were told that the queue moved very slowly," he added.

"Most of them arrived as early as 8am and the incident occurred between 12pm and 12.30pm. We believe exhaustion and frustration contributed to the building tension.

BOILING POINT

We believe exhaustion and frustration contributed to the building tension. The commotion turned violent when the suspects grabbed the nearest objects, such as several pieces of wood, to be used as weapons.

KUALA MUDA POLICE CHIEF ADZLI ABU SHAH, on four men in Kedah who had allegedly turned aggressive after becoming restless while waiting for their turn to vote.

 
 
 

"The commotion turned violent when the suspects grabbed the nearest objects, such as several pieces of wood, to be used as weapons."

The incident, which took place during the Merbok divisional elections, left a man injured.

"He sustained minor injuries to the head and received outpatient treatment at the Hospital Sultan Abdul Halim, Sungai Petani," Assistant Commissioner Adzli said.

The suspects are being investigated for rioting.

The party elections will see history in the making as the system of electronic voting, or e-voting, is being used for the first time.

But the process was far from smooth in Kedah as the names of candidates and voters allegedly went missing in the voting app after the system suffered a glitch.

It also led to the postponement of voting in eight out of 15 branch elections in Kedah.

Election committee secretary Ismail Yusof was quoted by Malaysia's news portal Malaysiakini as saying: "There were a lot of technical issues... so that triggered tensions."

Other branches where elections have been suspended include Sungai Petani, Sik, Kulim, Langkawi, Baling, Jerai and Padang Serai.

In Seberang Jaya, Penang, a fight between PKR members erupted after a press conference.

Malaysiakini reported that videos uploaded by party member Syarul Ema Rena Abu Samah showed banquet chairs being turned into weapons.

The members of the Permatang Pauh PKR division in Penang were reported to be disappointed that the party elections there had started late.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 23, 2018, with the headline 'Tensions flare amid e-voting glitches in Malaysia's PKR polls'. Print Edition | Subscribe