Automatic registration of voters could "pollute" the electoral roll, especially in Sabah. NSTP/AIZUDDIN SAAD

KOTA KINABALU: Automatic registration of voters could "pollute" the electoral roll, especially in Sabah.

Parti Bersatu Sabah president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said this in opposing the proposal for automatic registration of new voters.

Ongkili said in Sabah there is a large presence of illegal immigrants and many have become voters.

The number of immigrants could reach over a million and this include those who have become voters, he said.

"Many of these illegal foreigners are suspected to be holders of fake identity cards (ICs), or ICs illegally given, or dubious birth certificates," he said.

Ongkili pointed out with automatic registration, the children of doubtful voters would contaminate the electoral roll.

"If this is allowed, then for Sabah, foreigners will determine the formation of both the national and Sabah governments.

"PBS believe that this is not only serious, but exposing our country and state to political disaster.

"We (PBS) insist that new voters must register and prove their qualifications as a voter. It cannot be automatic," he stressed.

Parti Bersatu Sabah president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili. NSTP/YAZIT RAZALI

Besides, he added that there is no guarantee that automatic registration would increase voters turnout, unless voting is made compulsory like in many countries that practise automatic registration.

He added that however, PBS supports the proposal to reduce the voting age from 21 to 18.

"(But) More efforts should be directed to conducting education and awareness programmes to young people on why they should practise their rights to vote and participate in the political process.

"Not by forcing young people to register as voters through legal compulsion. Hence, PBS objects automatic voter registration. It's a wrong priority and exposing Sabah to the rule of illegal foreigners," he said.

The proposed constitutional amendment was tabled for first reading today by Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and expected to be debated and voted next week.