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Constitutional amendment to legalise phantom voters

There is another wanton attempt to amend the Constitution for political expediency to perpetuate Umno's hold to power. This time, it is a constitutional amendment to legalise massive phantom voters in Sabah.

De facto Law Minister Rais Yatim has just announced that the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) will propose an amendment to the Federal Constitution in Parliament next week, to the effect that once the electoral roll is gazetted, it is deemed true and non-disputable. The Sun quoted Rais as saying:

"It (the electoral roll) cannot be disputed any more in any court of law once the registration of new voters is gazetted. This will indirectly help eliminate the problem of phantom voters."

Asked if the government will pursue its earlier proposal to amend the Election Offences Act to allow for appeals against election court decisions, Rais said it was no longer necessary. He added: "We are killing two birds with one stone with this constitutional amendment."

It is clear that the purpose of this proposed constitutional amendment is to legalise the many tens of thousands of phantom voters in Sabah. It is a crude attempt to shut forever, the Pandora's box opened by Justice Muhammad Kamil Awang when he revealed the existence of massive electoral frauds in Sabah through illegally injecting tens of thousands of illegal Philippine and Indonesian immigrants to the Sabah electoral roll.

Muhammad's judgment annulling the Likas election contains the following stunning revelations:

a) Tens of thousands of non-citizens consisting of illegal immigrants from Philippines and Indonesia have been registered in the electoral roll in Sabah.

b) These phantom voters are categorised as:

- Holders of blue (for citizens only) identity cards illegally issued;

- Holders of fake IC and temporary IC;

- Electors with duplicate IC numbers; and

- Electors disqualified through court convictions.

c) There have been massive campaigns to illegally issue blue IC to illegal immigrants, and subsequently to register them as voters.

d) Opposition leaders have repeatedly lodged official complaints of phantom voters with details of names and dubious IC numbers, but have not received any reply from the National Registration Department, the Election Commission and the police. There is a reason why no public hearing on these objections has been held, which is in contravention of the Election (Registration of Electors) Regulations (Sabah) 1971.

e) Justice Muhammad said he received a telephone instruction from the then Chief Justice Eusoff Chin to strike off the election petition without hearing. Muhammad also disclosed that judges hearing other similar election petitions in Sabah had also received telephone instructions from the same Chief Justice to dismiss their cases.

If the BN government has been honest and law-abiding, it would have immediately taken a series of measures to rectify the serious breach of law as outlined by Justice Muhammad, which should include:

- Criminal investigations on the former Chief Justice for possible tampering of justice;

- Review of all the election petitions in Sabah that had been dismissed by the judges, some or all of whom had allegedly received telephone instructions from the former Chief Justice to dismiss their cases.

- Ascertain and cancel all blue IC illegally issued.

- Cleanse the Sabah electoral roll of phantom voters.

- Bring those involved to justice for having been involved in illegally issuing blue IC and registering phantom voters.

But what has our BN government done? It has done the exact opposite, which are:

- The prime minister and the de facto law minister have launched concerted attacks on Justice Muhammad for what they allege as bearing personal grudges against the government, interfering with government administration, and indulging in anti-government politics.

- Rais intimated that he would be introducing measures through the current Chief Justice to tighten discipline among judges, so that the Likas case would not be repeated (couched threats on the judiciary).

Initially, BN proposed to amend the election law to allow appeals against decisions of an election court (present law does not allow for any appeal). This move was obviously intended to allow the incumbent BN representative Yong Teck Lee to stand as a candidate again in the coming Likas by-election, as well as to have the chance to overthrow Muhammad's judgment.

On second thought, BN abandoned the idea as this amendment may open up the previously dismissed election petitions for future appeals. Instead, BN favours the present proposal to amend the Constitution, which will have the effect of legalising the phantoms voters, as the Sabah electoral roll (which has already been gazetted) will not be subject to judicial review.

So, it will have the dual effect of legalising Yong's candidacy through overthrowing Muhammad's judgment, and at the same time burying the phantom voters menace for good. This is what Rais meant by "killing two birds with one stone".

And also, the legalising of phantom voters was euphemistically described by Rais as "eliminating the problem of phantom voters".

As for the various remedial actions to rectify the breach of law as described above, none has been carried out. That is to say, no action has been taken on former CJ Eusoff, or to review election petitions dismissed under dubious circumstances, or to cancel IC illegally issued, or to cleanse the electoral roll of phantom voters, or to nail the culprits for causing this massive scam.

In short, the BN government has done nothing to uphold the Constitution and to restore the political rights of Sabahans to elect their representatives without massive distortion (in favour of Umno) from the illegal immigrants posing as voters. Instead, it relies on its numerical superiority in Parliament to twist and turn the Constitution to cover up its gross violation of the democratic rights of Sabahans, and indeed, of all Malaysians.

Come polling day of the Likas by-election this Saturday, every citizen eligible to vote in that Constituency must treasure this golden opportunity to cast his vote to express his condemnation of this BN betrayal of the people's trust.