EC chairman: Removing 'non-citizens' from electoral roll not so straight forward

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 12 Oct 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The striking out of "non-citizens" from the electoral roll in Sabah is not straight forward as it involves the Constitutional rights of a citizen that is recognised by the National Registration Department.

Election Commission chairman Datuk Azhar Harun (pic) said that the Election Commission can only register voters whose citizenship were registered with the National Registration Department.

A citizen has the constitutional right to be registered as a voter and the commission cannot strike out names from the roles without valid a reason," he said during the Kopi Kopi Talk with undergraduates of UiTM during a symposium on electoral reforms at Sepanggar here on Friday (Oct 11).

"Once you are a citizen, you are protected by the Constitution, and its not easy for the state, country and government to take away your citizenship," he explained.

He said that there was no solution as yet to strike out alleged dubious voters from Sabah's electoral roll.

"EC is the victim not the cause. We are the secondary data user, the data (on citizens) is provided by the NRD," he said.

"We recognise this is a deep issue and we are aware of it. It is deep and involves corruption and others," he said.

"I don't have a solution. We are engaging the Home Ministry and NRD about the issue, right now there is no solution yet.

"It is going to be a tedious process because citizenship is a really major issue. And allegations of false citizenship are a very heavy allegation."

He said they have met Home Ministry once or twice already and they will meet again to discuss the issue.

"They are of course conscious and aware of the issues that are being raised and the engagement is at a very early stage, so what will be done, what could be done is not yet settled. We have from time to time to sit down and discuss," he added.

He said some 16,000 names were struck out from the electoral roll after the 2013 Royal Commission Inquiry on illegal immigrants identified them.

On Sabah political parties' call to put on hold automatic voter registration till after the electoral roll is checked, Azhar said he will engage with Sabah and Sarawak political parties on the issue of automatic voter registration and Undi18.

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