Malaysian electoral authorities have proposed re-registering all 10.9 million voters in a mammoth exercise aimed at silencing allegations of fraud and vote-rigging, a report said Monday.
Election Commission chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said the project would take about two years, in time for the next general elections unless a snap poll is triggered by current political turmoil.
“The new registration exercise will be held if the government accepts the proposal. We hope the proposal will be accepted,” he said according to The Star daily.
Abdul Rashid said the existing roll was a “thorn in his flesh,” after being condemned by the opposition and rights activists who say it is deeply flawed and riddled with phantom voters.
Election reform campaigners said ahead of March 8 general elections that almost 9,000 voters born more than 100 years ago — including two reported to be 128 years old — were enrolled to vote.
Opposition leaders said before the March polls that they would be the country’s “dirtiest ever” after the Electoral Commission controversially abandoned a plan to mark voters’ fingers with indelible ink.
Nevertheless, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition suffered the worst results in its half-century history, losing five states and a third of parliamentary seats to the opposition.
The outcome triggered calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, as well as splits within his ruling party which commentators say could potentially force the premier to hold fresh elections.
Abdul Rashid said the Electoral Commission was capable of handling snap polls if necessary.
“It is not for us to speculate, but we are prepared for anything. In the past two months of meeting with the (returning officers) I’ve already told them to be prepared as it may be called any time,” he said.