Election monitors urge poll postponement
Posted on March 31, 2012, Saturday
KUALA LUMPUR: Election monitors Friday urged the government to put off polls until it can clean up the electoral roll, problems with which have led to a public “crisis of confidence”.
K. Shan, chairman of the independent election monitor National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI), said the government must implement reforms fully before the election, including allowing court challenges to the voter roll, which critics say is riddled with irregularities.
“The problem with the electoral roll … has translated into a crisis of confidence and perception in terms of the election processes,” Shan told reporters. “They (the government) should postpone the election.”
Independent polling agent Merdeka Centre also published findings from a survey last year that showed voters could not be located for 69 percent out of 1,200 randomly selected registrations.
Of another 1,200 people surveyed, six percent said they had registered but could no longer find their entry in the voter roll.
The Election Commission, in charge of conducting polls, has said it is cleaning up the roll. It has also reportedly fired hundreds of staff for registering voters twice, adding non-citizens and other “negligence”.
Shan said commission officials did not require proof of address when registering voters and so politicians were registering supporters in their areas, hoping to secure victory.
Opposition election workers and independent vote-reform advocates say a rash of such irregularities, unequal access to media and other problems could tip the balance in what analysts say will be a closely fought contest.
A bi-partisan parliament panel set up to address these issues is due to publish its reform recommendations on Monday after a six-month study.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak established the panel in response to the July rally for electoral reforms.
Najib is widely expected to seek a fresh mandate within months though polls are only due by April next year.
The ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, which has governed the country since 1957, got its worst drubbing in the last elections in 2008.-AFP