Malaysians abroad are being told that the Malaysian government is extending the eligiblity to vote from abroad – but will the process be fair and transparent?

At present, the eligiblity to vote from abroad is limited to civil servants and their spouses, serving armed forces personnel and their spouses, and Malaysians studying full-time on government scholarship and their spouses.

But now, the eligibility for absent voters is in the process of being revised and extended.

The Election Commission is believed to have requested Malaysian embassies’ assistance to provide details of Malaysians abroad. The information, required under two categories – registered voters and non-registered voters, is apparently needed for the Commission to prepare absent voters’ registration documents. These documents will then be sent to the respective overseas embassies.

Malaysians abroad who are already registered voters will be eligible to apply for absent voter status. Those who are not yet registered as voters will first have to register themselves as voters before they can apply for absent voter status.

The above information was communicated to a contact of mine living abroad by the Malaysian embassy in that country.

Given the many questions surrounding postal ballots for security personnel within Malaysia in the past, it is not surprising that there is already concern about how the process of absentee voting will be carried out. This in itself is a reflection of the level of public confidence in the Election Commission.

How can we ensure that only bona fide voters’ ballots are received and counted without any tampering? How do we ensure there are no phantoms acting as absent voters?

If you are based abroad, tell us what you have heard from your nearest Malaysian embassy.