Mahathir’s lawyer refuses to comment on fraud signatures allegation
(NST) – A man, claiming to be a former volunteer with the Election Commission (EC), has admitted to selling confidential voter information to various parties, including private companies and other individuals.
He claimed that among those who had bought the information was a person purportedly linked to the Dr Mahathir-Lim Kit Siang Declaration initiative. The information, he claimed, was bought to boost the number of signatures of people who purportedly supported the declaration.
Speaking at a press conference today, Azharuddin Othman @ Abdullah, 30, from Terengganu claimed that he was contacted by a woman known only as Ema, on April 27. Ema, he claimed, was also referred to as Ratu Naga (Dragon Lady).
“She wanted to purchase the Malaysian residents’ database to gain the 1.2 million signatures needed by (former prime minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for his declaration project,” he claimed, adding Ema knew he had access to a database of millions of Malaysians, which could be broken down into several categories.
“Ema offered me RM5,000 to get the database of 1.2 million people through her email. “She informed me the database was needed for the declaration project to be sent to the Yang di Pertuan-Agong,” he claimed. Azharuddin, a freelance computer programmer, also claimed he was told that they needed the signatures quickly as the person leading the initiative did not want his name linked to the transaction.
He claimed that although he was promised RM5,000 for the database, Ema only paid him RM1,000 via a bank transaction last month. Asked by reporters on how he managed to get access to the database, Azharuddin alleged that he was a volunteer during the 13th General Elections with the EC.
“Every elections district will have a CD of voter registration, and the CD is available to any volunteer,” he claimed. Azharuddin was accompanied at the press conference by Keadilan member Badrul Hisyam Shahari, better known as Chegubard. Badrul Hisyam said Azharuddin’s claims showed that the Dr Mahathir-Lim Kit Siang Declaration was based on a lie and that the people should not be duped.
“Yes, I agree there are changes needed in the government but let us be clear that the end does not justify the means,” he said. Badrul Hisyam said while many politicians were occupied with the Sarawak elections where Mahathir was nowhere near, somehow the declaration received 1.2 million signatures.
“How could Dr Mahthir’s son Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir claim that they received 1.2 million signatures within two weeks?” he asked. Badrul Hisyam claimed that prominent opposition members such as Datuk S. Ambiga and Mohamad Sabu had no knowledge of the fraud but were victims themselves.
Badrul Hisyam also admitted to have purchased personal data information from Azharuddin for business advertising purposes. “What we did was for business but what they did was try to cheat Malaysians by using this database,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, lawyer Haniff Khatri, the legal representative for Dr Mahathir, when contacted said it was too early for them to comment on the matter.
“First and foremost, we will look at the allegations and study whether it has anything to do with us, if not then why bother to comment,” he said. He said his office will issue an official statement once it has a better understanding of the allegations by Azharuddin.
On May 13, Dr Mahathir had announced that his Mahathir-Kit Siang declaration had collected 1.2 million signatures after two months of its launch. Dr Mahathir was reported to have said that 1.07 million signatures were collected online, 200,000 more signatures were on printed forms, and 50,000 recorded on the online petition website Change.org.
He also said that the 1,071,997 verified signatures were received online and 200,000 physical signatures on copies of the declaration. The verified signatures did not include 253,505 signatures that were rejected for being incomplete, duplications or discrepancies.