Three people died in election-related incidents yesterday, at least six voters in Sabah claimed others had voted using their identity cards, and many Malaysian leaders learnt first-hand what a “bot attack” was.
There was plenty of drama – some heartbreaking – in Malaysia’s most hard-fought elections, with nearly 15 million registered voters.
There were many other stories to tell – from riot police intervening in Selangor to stop a protest over alleged phantom voters, to unusual scenes of many Chinese men and women putting aside their shorts and wearing long pants to vote.
A polling hall caught fire in Selangor, while a house burnt down in Sabah after the family went out to cast their ballots.
Malaysian media reported that a woman collapsed while waiting in the queue to cast her vote in Dungun, Terengganu, yesterday morning. Ms Rokiah Sulong, 54, died a short while later.
“I heard the sound of someone hitting the floor but didn’t realise it was my mother before someone told me,” her daughter Nur Zita Md Nor, 36, was quoted as saying by Berita Harian Malaysia. She said her late mother had a history of high blood pressure.
In Petaling Jaya, Mr Lor Voon Chor, 78, fell and died as he was queueing up to vote in the morning.
“The deceased’s wife and children said he suffered from heart and lung issues, as well as diabetes,” said district police chief Mohd Zani Che Din.
In Raub town, Pahang, a polling clerk with the Election Commission (EC) died from an unknown cause while on duty.
Ms Rozaliza Mohd Said, 49, collapsed outside the toilet at the voting centre.
Her daughter had accompanied her to the toilet after she complained of stomach upset. She collapsed without regaining consciousness, The Star reported.
In Sabah, police said six people were not able to cast their ballots, claiming that others had voted using their identity cards, The Star reported.
Sabah police chief Ramli Din said: “These voters arrived at their polling stations and were told that someone with the same identification card details had already cast their votes.”
In the morning, as voters were starting to form long queues at polling centres, both opposition and Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders complained that their mobile phones were being spammed by calls allegedly from the United States. These calls prevented them from contacting their colleagues out in the field, they said.
An investigation found that this was an attack involving bots, or automated programs.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, which regulates the Internet, said: “Our initial investigation points to a technical cause of bots attack which is initiated anonymously from various sources with differing targets irrespective of the political parties.”
The opposition also said that some of their websites were under so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which swamp targets with traffic and disable their IT systems.
In Selangor’s Klang town, police threatened to fire tear gas at more than 100 opposition supporters after they protested against six men and three women from Sabah who cast their ballots in the Selangor constituency, The Sun Daily newspaper reported.
The district’s police chief Shamsul Ramly said Pakatan Harapan’s candidate Charles Santiago later accepted the explanation that the Sabah residents were legitimate voters for the ward.
Around the country yesterday, reporters noticed that many ethnic Chinese men and women wore long pants at polling centres, instead of the usual shorts.
They might have been influenced by social media messages that voters would be turned away unless they were “appropriately dressed”, even though the EC had said there was no specific dress code.