Every 4 to 5 years, we have elections and we elect both existing and new leaders to power. As citizen, we think the issue of elections is an issue when the call of the elections is announced. However, it is no brainer that Malaysia has serious flaws in the electoral system. This means that we as citizens we need to be alert on various issues and more importantly, do something about it.
With more than 3 million unregistered voters in Malaysia, a lot of Malaysians still doesn’t seem to feel the urge of being registered as a voter. The process of registration is simple where you just need to bring your IC to nearest post office. What many Malaysians doesn’t seem to realise is registering at the post office does not qualify you immediately as a voter. There is 3 month waiting period and subsequently your name will be scrutinized by the members of public or political parties.
With elections round the corner, 3 months is very long period time (a week in politics is a long time). After 3 months, your voter registration could be objected by the public. Recently, the flaws of the objection process (for voter registration) has been highlighted. It is possible that a person can object your registration with one liner statement – you don’t live in this area. If this occurs, you may be summoned for a hearing by EC and you should present evidence to defend your registration process. If your objector has failed to prove you otherwise, he or she has to pay you a nominal fee for creating unnecessary trouble for you.
Unfortunately, some parties may have abused the objection process to stop new voters being registered on the grounds of ethnicity or political preferences.
In a simple sense, the process of becoming as a voter is a time consuming process. Any of you reading ought to register yourself as a voter soon.
Once you become as a voter, we should not think our duty is only conducted on Election Day. Malaysia has 222 parliamentary seats and after 8 years or more, the boundaries of federal and state seats are altered. This is to accommodate the changes in population sizes and distribution. Each seat with ‘X’ number of voters elect one MP and one state representative on polling day. Over the period of 50 years or more, our Election Commission (SPR), who has been entrusted for election management, has lost its independence. Instead of addressing fairer representation for all Malaysian voters, SPR has manipulated election borders to favour certain political parties and ethnicities.
This manipulation takes form of gerrymandering and malapportionment. Gerrymandering is systematic manipulation of election boundaries to create electoral outcomes to favour a certain party. The boundaries pack supporters of party A and dilute opposition voters in one area to ensure Party A wins. As Malaysia winner takes all system, intended effect is disastrous. Malapportionment occurs when seat A has too many/ too little voters as compared to Seat B. As Seat A and Seat B elects one representative each, malapportionment undermines the equality of every voter. Systematic malapportionment in Malaysia is the reason why the changes at federal government is practically impossible.
SPR Malaysia conducts redelineation exercise where it ought to address population changes for every seat. SPR ought to follow the principle of the 13th Schedule in the constitution when drawing up the borders. In this process, voters like you and me have the right to file an objection and present counter proposals to ensure the boundaries are fairly representative for the voters. In the advent of SPR fails to comply constitutional requirements of the redelineation, voters are ought to support any move to file legal case against SPR (similar to Sarawak in 2015 and Selangor in 2017).
An unconstitutional redelineation process will result fixed electoral outcomes and demoralize voter’s motivation to turn up to vote.
While we assume SPR Malaysia does hard work to ensure clean electoral roll, the facts are far away from the assumption. As elections and by elections get closer, there are increased reports of suspicious voters cropping up in the roll. Examples, extremely old voters (more than 100+) and unrelated voters residing in a single house are suspicious voters. We, as voters, ought to help political parties and groups to object suspicious voters. Failure to do so, will result suspicious voters tilting results in many marginal results. The whole electoral system and outcome are undermined the presence of suspicious voters.
While you may think you have registered in section A, it is important you as a voter constantly check your details. This is because SPR may conduct administrative exercises which result you being transferred to another polling area. This can create much suspicion on yourself by others and you may not be able to vote on the polling day
On polling day, all voters should go to elections and go in early to prevent identity thefts. Phantom voters are voter who steal or use other person’s identity to cast the votes. Such practices are dangerous as it has tilting effect on election results.
There are many key elections issues that we as a voter and citizen of the country must be aware of:
We live by the consequences of our actions today. As a voter, we must be responsible by actively participating in the electoral system beyond casting the vote. It is your resolve and actions will ultimately decide which government will preside over you.