EC decision on Batang Ai ballots sparks protests

(The Star) LUBOK ANTU: The Election Commission’s decision not to count the ballots at 14 of the 26 polling stations in the Batang Ai constituency after the by-election tomorrow has drawn strong objections from election watchdog Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Malfrel) and PKR.

The ballot boxes from the 14 stations will be transferred to the vote-tallying centre at the Lubok Antu Sports Complex where the ballots would be counted.

Malfrel and PKR have lodged separate protests with the commission, appealing for a review of the decision.

Alternatively, they have asked the commission to allow Malfrel officials or PKR agents to escort the commission officials to the tallying centre.

The 14 stations are Kesit, Engkari, Delok, Kumpang, Klampu. Sayat, Jela, Sempang, Bertik, Kachong, Patoh, Bilararap, Sepaya and Gugu.

Malfrel chief co-ordinator Peter John Jaban questioned why the commission decided not to count all the ballots at the polling stations.

He said returning officer Nelson Mujah had said that this was the practice in past elections.

He said the commission had denied Malfrel access to the counting centres.

PKR coordinator for the by-election Dominique Ng Kim Ho said the commission had given “logistic and weather considerations” as reasons why the ballot boxes had to be brought to the tallying centre.

Ng, who is also Padungan assemblyman, claimed that most of the 14 polling stations, which have a total of 3,312 registered voters, were located in opposition strongholds.