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Date: 23 Nov 1999
Malaysian polls watchdog claims irregularities in voters' list
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 (AFP) - A Malaysian group set up to monitor upcoming polls claimed Tuesday there were "serious deficiencies" in the voters' list and called for a thorough investigation.
"To us, the irregularities are very serious," Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzaman, president of the the Malaysian Citizens Election Watch, told AFP.
Kamar said the polls watchdog had received hundreds of complaints, such as voters' names being deleted from the ballot list, names of deceased appearing on the list and voters being "moved" to another electoral constituency without their knowledge.
"More than half of the names in the (electoral) list has no entries on the voters' date of birth. This is alarming because the eligibility of voters can be questioned," she said.
In Malaysia, only those 21-years-old and above are allowed to vote.
Expressing fear the irregularities would influence the outcome of the election, she urged the Election Commission, which was conducting the polls, to address these concerns.
The watchdog had previously called for safeguards against "phantom voters" and other fraud.
"The discrepancies and irregularities on the electoral roll will clearly compromise the integrity of the elections and undermine the democratic process," Kamar said.
"More than a week has passed since the election date was announced. The Election Commission should no longer keep silent about the issue," she said in a statement.
In a separate development, an activist group slammed the pre-election media campaign by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's coalition, which it said has "caused uneasiness, panic and anger among the people."
Newspaper advertisements by the ruling National Front have focused on street disturbances sparked by the jailing and prison treatment this year of ex-deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, the candidate for prime minister of the opposition alliance.
The advertisements featured photos of rioters with the message that the opposition alliance had "no respect for the law, no fear of the authorities (and) no regard for the safety of others."
"We demand that the National Front immediately cease using the threat of violence and mob rule as a strategy of securing votes," said Charles Santiago, spokesperson of the People's Manifesto Initiative, a loose coalition of dozens of non-governmental organisations.
"The committee is of the opinion that the fear campaign unleashed by the National Front denies the people their democratic right to exercise their voting responsibility without fear and intimidation," he said.