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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        22  June 2011

Malaysia fingerprints voters

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Malaysia plans to fingerprint voters to combat fraud in the next elections, as it comes under pressure from activists planning a mass rally next month over claims of rampant vote-rigging.

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 on 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.

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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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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