• Election Reform

    Dear fellow Malaysians, voters, and residents of P102 Serdang,

    A clean electoral roll, and the principle of one-Malaysian-one-vote, are the bedrock of free and fair elections. Both these principles have been eroded in Malaysia to the extent that there is a grave danger of elections producing a government that does not reflect the wishes of the people.

    I have produced extensive evidence that the electoral role is far from clean or accurate. I found, for example, a voter by the name of Tey Kim in Sarawak, who was born in 1890. This would make her the oldest person in the world at 123 years of age, which is 9 years older than Misao Okawa, currently the oldest person in the world at 114 years of age, according to the Guinness World Records. I found cases of 100-year-old policemen who are still registered as police postal voters. I found thousands of cases of voters with obviously Male names e.g. “Anak Lelaki” or “Bin” but who were listed as Female on the electoral roll (and vice versa). I found tens of thousands of voters whose old ICs were listed as dubious during testimony given in the 2013 Sabah RCI.

    The problem of malapportionment is rife in Malaysia, due to the distorted drawing of constituency boundaries during delimitation exercises. The situation is such today that less than 16,000 voters in Putrajaya (the smallest constituency) are represented by one MP, but the same applies to more than 140,000 voters in Kapar. How can this practice, which clearly makes a mockery of the one-man-one-vote principle, be allowed to go on if we want to have a truly representative democracy? I recognise that there are special circumstances, such as the sparsely populated areas in Sabah and Sarawak which warrant some deviation, but these issues were adequately covered in our original constitution which allowed for, at one point, a maximum of 15% deviation from the national average.

    Cleaning up the electoral roll and eliminating malapportionment are crucial if voters are to retain faith in the democratic process and for elections to deliver governments that reflect the wishes of the voters. This process requires commitment from a truly independent Election Commission (EC) with support from the National Registration Department (NRD) and federal government. In this respect, I believe that the EC cannot be independent as long as it sits within the Prime Minister’s Office, and with Commissioners, Chairman, Deputy Chairman and staff who are drawn from the regular pool of civil servants and thus may be subject to political pressures from the top.

    I believe that the Election Commission should be made independent. Its Chairman must be a respected public figure appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on advice of Parliament. The Election Commission should be accountable only to Parliament and should be allowed to hire its own staff, without going through the Public Service Commission (PSC). It should have the power to prosecute offenders under the Elections Offences Act 1954 rather than having to rely on the Attorney-General to do so.

    I strongly disapprove of current legislation which prevents the electoral roll from being challenged once it has been gazetted, because this prevents the electoral roll from being cleaned up at regular intervals.

    I believe that the delimitation exercise should occur once every 10 years and that the process should be undertaken by an independent Election Commission. During this process, the one-man-one-vote principle should be adhered to, with a 15% maximum allowable deviation from the national average.

    I believe in allowing for local elections which includes elections for local councils and mayors.

    I believe that there should be an elected (or at least a partially elected) Dewan Negara / Upper House. The current Dewan Negara fails to represent adequately the rights of the individual states since the number of federal appointees currently outnumbers the state appointees by over 2 to 1.

    I believe that the voting age should be lowered to 18 in order to involve the next generation in the decision making and political process of the country at a younger age.

    I believe in the automatic registration of voters to ensure that all eligible voters have the right to vote. Their voting constituency should be based on their IC address as a way to ensure consistency in the electoral roll. A change in the IC address should automatically lead to a change in the voting constituency.

    I believe that the current system of postal voting is flawed and puts a veil of fear over the heads of civil servants, police and army personnel who feel as if they must vote for the government of the day because their votes are being monitored. This veil of fear must be lifted through a reform of the postal ballot system.

    I believe that that more options should be given to voters in terms of how and where they cast their vote, provided that the integrity of the vote is safeguarded. This includes allowing Malaysians who do not work and live in their home constituency the option of casting postal ballots. I believe that Malaysians who are overseas should also be given the right to cast postal ballots including those living in Singapore, Thailand, Brunei and Kalimantan.

    I believe in legislation that introduces fixed terms for the government in order to avoid the speculation involving the holding of ‘snap’ elections. I believe there should also be provisions to have a vote of no confidence which can lead to fresh elections if the government of the day fails to pass this test.

    I believe that we should have a national referendum on whether to move from a first-past-the-post system to a different electoral system. My own preference for an electoral system that is compatible with the needs of Malaysia is the German Mixed Member Proportional System which combines the advantageous of having a constituency-based MP and also having the proportional representation component to allow each party to gain its proportional share of seats. I believe that introducing a proportional representation electoral system at the local council elections as a start.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Election Strategist, Democratic Action Party
    Parliamentary Candidate for P102 Serdang
    Thursday, 18 April 2013

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