Malaysiakini Letter

Non-citizens dictating outcome of elections

Just One Vote  |  Published:  |  Modified:

I wish to refer by Gimfil James letter titled Filipinos with false Muslim names fooling us .

I chanced upon a copy of the dissertation by one Kamal Sadiq entitled 'When states prefer non-citizens over citizens: Conflict over illegal immigration into Malaysia'.

According to him, "... weak documentation systems leave states open not only to illegal entry of economic migrants, terrorists, and other criminals via document fraud, but to massive electoral fraud as well, which has serious implications for the conduct of democratic politics. By acquiring and possessing seemingly legal documents that 'prove' juridical membership in a state, a non-citizen can easily acquire citizenship status. I shall call this process through which citizenship status is ascribed to a non-citizen as 'documentary citizenship'."

He contends that "... the motive for such practices is to use illegal immigrants as voters to assure political control by a Malay/Muslim party such as the Umno." He also stated that "... these suffrage non-citizens wind up being privileged over native, non-suffrage citizens." His table 'Political affiliation and ethnic group representation in Sabah' showed Umno's Indonesian ethnic group comprising 5.5% in 1960, rising to 21.3% in 1991, while its Filipino ethnic group comprised 1.6% in 1960 and later rising to 8.2%. As a comparison, PBS's ethnic Kadazandusun group comprised 32% in 1960 and declined to 19.6% while its Murut ethnic group comprised 4.9% in 1960 and later dropped to 2.9%.

Having read the full dissertation, I find it disturbing that our government allows the issue of "documentary citizenship" to non-citizens with voting rights which, judging from the sheer number, would have altered the outcome of the last general election in Sabah. It is paradoxical that while non-citizens were allowed to vote, those citizens in the interiors whose births were not registered because of poor accessibility, could not.

I find it disturbing that those responsible for these fraudulent activities were merely detained under the ISA which avoids having to tender evidence in a court of law which might have implicated our authorities.

I find it disturbing that Kadazandusun leaders, like Pairin Kitingan, who pursued this matter when in the opposition, did not pursue it further, but rather accepted a deputy chief minister's position and swept the matter under the carpet.

I think the National Registration Department should work with the Election Commission to ensure the electoral rolls are free of non-citizens, i.e. people who should not have been allowed to vote in the first place. The rolls should also be free of the names of dead persons which can be used by 'phantom voters'.

We have at least two years before the next general election. The NRD and EC should be pressured into action instead of waiting until it is too late to act. We need a clean electoral roll before we can have a clean, fair election.

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