Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Automatic registration of voters-EC must stop finding excues or give unacceptable reasons


Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohdhad said on December 30 that the EC was studying two reforms -a 24-hour cooling off period prior to polling day and three-day nomination.

Abdul Aziz's revelation shows that EC was not giving priority to important and fundamental reforms which are essential to fair , clean election and a vibrant democracy.

Instead of proposing cosmetic changes, EC should give urgent consideration to the many proposals made by the DAP many years ago. .

One proposal which the DAP has made is the automatic registration of voters as the EC has consistently failed to register 90% of eligible citizens as voters.

Last month, in a media report it was stated that the number of total voters should have been more than 16 million , but Malaysia has only about 11 million registered voters

EC has mentioned that political apathy is a major reason why the EC and even agents appointed by political parties have had limited success in their efforts to register new voters.

But does this not mean that it is all the more important that EC should introduce automatic registration of voters ?

I have asked a question in Parliament on this issue and I find EC's reasons for not implementing the automatic registration of voters totally unacceptable.

The first reason given is that Malaysia is a " highly mobile society" and hence there will be frequent change of addresses which are not updated on their MyKad.

If this is the problem for automatic registration of voters, then it is also a problem for non automatic registration too. Is the EC saying that the people's failure to update their address is a technical problem that is insurmountable?

Surely if other countries can do it, there is no reason why Malaysia cannot handle it.

The second reason given is that automatic registration contains the force or compulsion factor which is against the Malaysia's democracy as well as the Federal Constitution.

This is a most ridiculous ground as I cannot see how automatic registration of voters can be interpreted as such.

There are countries which have implemented compulsory voting, yet the EC is still trying to argue against compulsory registration!

The effective and only solution for EC's past failures to register 90% of eligible citizens as voters is for the EC to introduce automatic registration of voters.

If the EC is serious about ensuring that qualified citizens become registered voters , it must stop finding excuses or give unacceptable reasons.

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