May 3, 2013

Voting My Absentee Ballot

The 13th Malaysian General Election will be held on May 5th, 2013. For Malaysians residing overseas who registered for absentee ballots, we cast our votes a week earlier at the nearest Malaysian embassy or foreign office. As I completed my registration back in February, I was told to present myself to the Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre (MFTC) in Taipei last Sunday.
On arrival, there were crowds of helpful Malaysian students stationed near the entrance offering assistance for those unfamiliar with the procedure. They were dressed neutrally and bore no symbols or signs of any political party. At the lobby of the office, three MFTC officers checked us in by striking out our names and requesting our signature. We were then told to queue to enter their 8th floor office.

We were told the office they occupied was small and can only accommodate 4 voting booths. Hence the 20-minute wait in the lobby. The atmosphere was quite pleasant with mostly students exchanging small talk and discussing study plans.
After we were invited up their office, another MFTC officer verifies your identity and hands you your ballot papers sealed in an envelope. "Affairs of His Majesty The King" with "Election Commission of Malaysia" printed.

We can collect the ballot papers and vote there right away or leave and vote at a place of our choice with a legal witness. For those unwilling to vote at the office, you'd have to bear the costs of hiring a witness and sending your ballot papers back to the EC.
We unseal the envelope in front of one of three witnesses provided by the MFTC who cross-checks your name, identity number, and ballot serial number on both the parliament and state ballots. Somehow I don't feel my votes were confidential given that my ballot serial number is printed on my verification letter which must be attached with my ballot. However, as the witness explained we were to put our ballots in another sealed envelope which will be handled confidentially, I think the procedure is barely acceptable.
I voted in an empty booth, put all the papers in their respective envelopes, sealed them, and drop them into a large gunnysack hung right at the exit of our voting room. And I completed my first voting as an honourable citizen of Malaysia.

As mentioned in my previous post, your vote is your choice on behalf of your country. It represents what you believe in and who you give that mandate to govern and manage our country. It is our integrity, our democratic right, and our future. To all fellow Malaysians, please make every effort to vote on Sunday and may God bless our motherland.