On Sunday, April 7, at 3 PM, the Overseas Election Committee (PPLN) Kota Kinabalu received a report from the Election Executive Committee Group (KPPSLN) that their rented car had caught fire on the way back from picking up the ballots from the palm oil plantations.
“All six ballot drop boxes, as well as their contents, could not be saved,” said Head of the Kota Kinabalu Overseas Election Committee Cahyono Rustam when contacted on Monday.
Those 900 ballots, which were collected from three drop box locations within the vicinity of the IJM Palm Oil Company, were gutted. Of the three locations, one was in the IJM area, while the other two were in the plantations owned by Meridian.
The fire ripped through the rented car at 3 PM in Sapi Nangoh-Paitan Street in the Sandakan area. All four passengers were officers of the Oversees Election Executive Committee Group. While all four escaped without any injuries, the car driver, Saenudin, suffered minor burns. Saenudin received first aid treatment in the clinic in the plantation area and has since been discharged.
Rustam said that the Sandakan authorities are still carrying out an investigation to ascertain the reason for the fire.
Furthermore, Cahyono Rustam said that the Committee has reported the incident to the Overseas Election work group, and the General Election Commission will immediately send over replacements.
For the 2019 presidential election, the Kota Kinabalu Overseas Election Committee had distributed some of the drop boxes that were located in the palm oil plantations in Sandakan and Kinabatangan to the Overseas Election Executive Committee Group on April 7.
“The assignment locations for the executive group officers are scattered across the depths of the plantation. It could take 4 to 12 hours to reach the areas from Sandakan city,” Rustam said.
The palm oil companies had given their workers Sunday off, allowing the members of the committee group to pick up the election logistics.
EDITED BY INE