Indonesia polls: Police name seven suspects in annulled Kuala Lumpur election

Indonesian citizens register to cast their votes for the 2024 general election at the Kuala Lumpur World Trade Center in Malaysia on Feb. 11, 2024. - Photo by Antara via Jakarta Post/ANN

JAKARTA: The National Police’s Criminal Investigation Agency (Bareskrim) has named seven Kuala Lumpur Overseas Election Committee (PPLN) officials as suspects for allegedly tampering with the voter list amid probes of irregularities surrounding the voting process in the Malaysian capital.

The polling committee officials were named suspects for inaccurate drafting of the final voter list for the Kuala Lumpur voting region due to the influence of lobbying from representatives of political parties, said Bareskrim’s general crimes director Brig. Gen. Djuhandani Rahardjo Puro.

“Based on the facts found in our investigation, we named six suspects for illegally adding or removing names from the voter list. The other one is for allegedly falsifying data for the list,” Djuhandani said on Thursday, as quoted by Antara.

Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) head Rahmat Bagja confirmed to the press on Thursday that the seven suspects were the same PPLN members suspended by the General Elections Commission (KPU) earlier this week.

The commission cited an issue marring the voting process in Kuala Lumpur as the suspension reason but did not specify the problem.

Out of nearly 500,000 voters casting their ballots in Kuala Lumpur, officials tasked with updating the voters list (Pantarlih) only properly verified and matched data of 64,148 people, fewer than 13 percent of the total potential voters in the city, according to Bareskrim.

Earlier this week, Bawaslu also said that it found 18 fake Pantarlih staffers, potentially related to the bloated number of voters in Kuala Lumpur.

Some 200,000 registered voters in Kuala Lumpur are slated for the 2024 presidential election revote in early March, following the discovery of several irregularities indicating foul play as announced by Bawaslu on Feb. 14.

Voters in Kuala Lumpur cast their ballots through mobile ballot boxes, mail-in votes and polling stations several days before the voting day in Indonesia on Feb. 14.

However, NGOs had raised concerns about irregularities surrounding the election process in Malaysia, including hundreds of duplicate names on the voter list, since late January.

Findings of irregularities and potential foul play prompted Bawaslu and Bareskrim to launch investigations several days after the voting process in the Malaysian capital.

Authorities found over 62,000 unregistered mail-in votes with untraceable addresses during the early phase of the investigation, among other findings.

Labor group Migrant CARE claimed that a criminal syndicate was also responsible for tampering with the election results.

The group, which claimed to be conducting its own investigation in Kuala Lumpur, found that mailed-in ballot papers were stolen in bulk. The ballots were later offered to people running in the elections, mostly legislative candidates, for between 25 Malaysian ringgit (US$5.20) and 50 ringgit per ballot.

“[The syndicate] would collect these stolen ballot papers in bulk and put them in one spot. From there, they would go through their orders, casting hundreds or thousands of votes for the particular candidate they had negotiated with,” said Muhammad Santor of Migrant CARE in a statement earlier this week.

Stealing mail-in ballot papers would not be difficult, according to Migrant CARE, since many of Indonesian diaspora live in apartments with unsecured mailboxes.

Voters were also not made aware when their ballot papers had arrived in the mail, leaving the papers unattended for days.

Bawaslu said that the agency was investigating these syndicates and would announce the progress and result of the investigations publicly. - Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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