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Malaysia to fingerprint voters to combat fraud

21 june 2011, 14:26
©RIA Novosti
©RIA Novosti
Malaysia has unveiled plans to fingerprint voters to combat fraud in the next elections, under pressure from activists planning a mass rally next month over claims of rampant vote-rigging, AFP reports.

Opposition parties and electoral campaigners say the July 9 protest will highlight allegations that the electoral process is rife with double-voting and other irregularities that stifle the opposition.

The next polls are not due until 2013 but the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, which denies charges that it unfairly influences the Election commission (EC), is widely expected to go to the people by next year.

EC chairman Abdul Aziz Mohamad Yusof said it plans to record voters' fingerprints to verify their identities before allowing them to cast their ballots, according to national news agency Bernama.

"Then (a voter) will be considered to have voted, and the individual concerned cannot go to another polling station with the identity card to again cast his or her vote," he was quoted as saying late Monday.

Andrew Khoo from electoral campaigners Bersih welcomed the move but said that technical difficulties could hamper the process as many Malaysian identity cards are believed to contain faulty chips.

"In principle that may well be one of the ways to combat double voting," he told AFP. "But we would need to look at how they plan to implement it."

Khoo said the EC has also failed to address other concerns, such as vote-buying and the opposition's unequal access to the government-linked mainstream media.

He said the rally would proceed despite police warnings that it is illegal and will be halted -- gatherings of five or more people in Malaysia need special permission which is rarely granted.

"The rally will go ahead," Khoo said. "People are frustrated with the unfairness of the election process as a whole."

Bersih staged a 2007 rally for for free and fair elections which drew some 30,000 people and was broken up by police using water cannons and tear gas.

In the last general elections in 2008, Barisan Nasional lost its traditional two-thirds parliamentary majority in the face of stunning gains by the opposition coalition led by deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.

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