When answering an oral question in the Parliament House two days ago, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the government did not believe in forcing citizens to register as voters.
"If there are Malaysians of voting age who don't want to register to vote, we cannot force them to. It will be undemocratic if the government does that," he said.
He was replying to a supplementary question from YB Ab Aziz Ab Kadir (Pas-Ketereh), who asked whether the government planned to introduce automatic registration of voters.
Nazri also said that automatic registration would result in problems as a large number of people no longer lived at the addresses in their identity cards.
Nazri’s reply did not come as a surprise as the BN government has always taken the position that there shall not be any automatic registration of voters despite the fact that about 5 million eligible citizens have yet to register as voters.
The Election Commission has always failed in its exercise to register new voters, even with assistance from political parties.
The government’s reasons for rejecting automatic registration of voters are unjustifiable and unacceptable.
Last year, the Election Commission has also cited the reason that Malaysia is a “highly mobile society" and hence there will be frequent change of addresses which are not updated on their MyKad.
I don’t see how the problem of addresses not being updated on MyKad should be a hindrance to automatic registration.
If high mobility is a problem for automatic registration of voters, is it not the same problem for non automatic registration of voters?
What is wrong for citizens to be registered at their old addresses in MyKad if they have moved and have not updated their addresses?
Why can’t they be allowed to be registered at their old addresses and allowed to update their addresses later if they so wish?
Is it not true that in the present system of registration of voters, there are cases where voters who have registered with their MyKad addresses later move to new home without having their addresses updated?
So how could the issue of address, whether old, new or not updated address, become a problem and hindrance to automatic registration of voters?
The government’s argument it is undemocratic to force citizens is undemocratic is ridiculous.
In other countries, compulsory voting has been implemented and yet the government is still arguing against automatic registration of voters.
In fact, automatic registration of eligible citizens as voters is democratic and necessary for a healthy and vibrant democracy.
Reduce the voting age
Also the age for voting should be reduced from 21years to 18 years. More then 100 countries in the world has a voting age of 18. Further at 18 years old Malaysians can be 1) called to do national service and they are thought how to handle fire arms.
2) can get married;
3) can open bank accounts and start working.
From the above factors the Government feels those above 18 can govern their life well and responsibly then why then they cannot vote?
The only obvious reason is that the trend shows that more of the young voters are inclined to vote for the opposition then the government in power.
Thus the whole process of registration of voters is made cumbersome and difficult which thus puts off the young voters!