By Agence France-Presse
Malaysian electoral watchdogs said Friday there were major discrepancies in voter lists, including some two million people registered without addresses, warning the flaws could help the scandal-hit government at polls next week.
Prime Minister Najib Razak is facing a tough test at the Wednesday vote due to a corruption scandal surrounding state fund 1MDB and a challenge from veteran ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad, 92.
About 15 million Malaysians are registered to vote, and analysts have warned the poll could be the dirtiest in the country’s history as Najib seeks to ensure his Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition extends its six-decade hold on power.
Yap Swee Seng, executive director of electoral reform group Bersih, said there were 10 major irregularities in voter lists, claiming the flaws reflected the Election Commission’s failure to ensure a clean and fair poll.
“This election is going to be fiercely fought and these discrepancies reflect possible fraud which will enable Barisan Nasional to win the election,” he told AFP.
“We are outraged and angry with the conduct of the EC.”
The irregularities, detailed by Berish and electoral reform group Engage, included about 500,000 cases of excessive numbers of voters being registered at one address, over two million voters without addresses and instances of dead people being listed as new voters.
“A defective electoral roll will bring into question the legitimacy of the whole election,” the groups said in a joint statement.
“We believe that these preliminary findings are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Just one address in the parliamentary constituency of Bagan Dato in northern Perak state, which is held by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, had 300 registered voters, according to Yap.
Yap said Bersih had written to the EC highlighting the discrepancies and its concerns but had not received a reply.
“This electoral cheating and manipulation can be overcome if voters come out in overwhelming numbers on May 9,” he said.
Najib is battling allegations that billions of dollars were looted from 1MDB — which he set up — in a campaign of fraud and money-laundering. The leader and 1MDB deny any wrongdoing.
Mahathir led Malaysia for 22 years and was spurred out of retirement to take on Najib due to 1MDB. He is the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate.
Despite the challenges, BN is expected to win.