KUALA LUMPUR, April 29, 2015:
Sabah Speaker Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has questioned the call by the Opposition to allow the imprisoned Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to vote in the Permatang Pauh by-election.
The Opposition, he wrote in his blog, wanted the government to allow the PKR de facto leader to vote, which meant that the latter must be given special exemption from the law.
“What about the other tens of thousands of prisoners? Should they, too, be given the right to vote or does the Opposition mean that Anwar alone must be given this right?”
The former Sabah Chief Minister gave examples of developed countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom, and also the United States as not allowing prisoners the right to vote.
“And it is the same in many Asian countries, Japan included. The Tokyo High Court ruled that denying prisoners the right to vote is constitutional.”
Salleh also highlighted the fact that Anwar was also imprisoned during the 1999 and 2004 general elections, but it was not made an issue in the past and questioned as to why it was an issue now.
He then wondered if the former Deputy Prime Minister was given the right to vote, would it be also be in the interest of fairness and justice that all other prisoners be allowed to do the same.
However, Salleh said that the tens of thousands of prisoners would not be able to walk to the polling stations all over the country since they were in prison.
“So, this will mean they will have to vote via postal votes. And the Opposition will, as usual, raise yet another issue — the issue of postal votes,” he said, adding that the Opposition was good at raising issues to make the government look bad.
The issue of the PKR adviser’s right to vote in the coming Permatang Pauh by-election was recently brought up by PKR vice-president NurulIzzah Anwar, who called on the government to give that right to Anwar.
Nurul Izzah, who is also Anwar’s daughter, claimed that Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had brought up the matter on allowing prisoners to vote in 2013.
Zahid had replied that he would leave the matter to the Election Commission to decide on the issue.