Malaysian election: Australian votes take dramatic last-minute trip to be counted

Winston Ow’s flight was booked and his bag was ready, but on this trip to Kuala Lumpur there was something unusual in his luggage.

When the Malaysian parliament was dissolved last month ahead of this week’s election, anyone in Australia who had the right to vote had to act quickly.

Mr Ow immediately booked a flight from Sydney to KL so he could have his say. He ended up winning over 100 other ballots.

Malaysians in Australia didn’t have to return home to vote – there was a postal option – but the 11-day election campaign made it a logistical nightmare.

“A good number of them [expatriates] requested that the postal votes be sent to them, but unfortunately many of them received their ballots very late, ”Mr. Ow said.

More than 3,600 people in Australia have registered to vote in the Malaysian elections, which were held on Wednesday and marked a shock return to power for former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Most of the papers arrived at the end of last week, some have not yet been received.

Fearing they might miss the chance to vote, Malaysian communities in Australia have created Facebook pages to put voters in contact with “vote runners”, who would be willing to carry their documents

Jun Keoo, from Sydney, was among those looking for a way to have it to say.

“I received my ballot on Tuesday morning and we had to pick it up at the end of the day on Tuesday,” she said.

“I managed to get my hands on the runner, he was leaving at 10 am and I had to get it to him at 8:30 am, so it was a pretty close race.”

An index with black ink at the end
Winston Ow’s finger was still covered in the ink used to vote when he returned to Sydney.(

ABC News: Michelle Cheng

)

Mr Ow was among the last of the runners to leave Sydney and ended up with 110 votes in his backpack.

“Some of the people who wanted to vote came to my office, some of them drove to my door, literally, some of them met me at the station, some of them met me in the parking areas. catering, at Macdonald’s, the last group met me at the airport itself, ”he said.

“I think about 30 or 40 people met me at the airport.”

Not everyone got hundreds of votes. Angel Tan, 44, only had five people with her on her flight, but said she decided to make the trip because her electorate was in a “critical area”.

“Although this is just one of my votes, it might not make a lot of difference, but I can probably help,” she said.

Angel Tan heard the election results as she returned to Australia.

“So the pilot announced it around, probably around 6, 7 am and everyone just cheered, like everyone was so happy with the result,” she said.

Two men smile at the camera
Mr Ow (L) managed to get Malaysia’s votes just in time for the elections.(

Provided: Wilson Ow

)


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