Wednesday, April 24

Civil action group wants return of political party Assistant Registration Officers

0

KUCHING: A civil action group Rise of Sarawak Efforts (ROSE) is calling upon the Election Commission (EC) to allow Assistant Registration Officers (ARO) from political parties to be appointed to deal with new voter registration immediately.

ROSE believes that it is not impossible to get a 2/3 vote for any change in the constitution if there was a proposal for automatic registration of voters.

“ROSE hopes that these are not the parting words of the outgoing or retiring chairman of the EC … that if we make voting automatic then it will decrease the number of voters which goes out to vote by 50 per cent. Is the Chair merely making a speculative conjecture or is he playing with percentages? Does not the fact that there was a 80 per cent voter turnout at the last General Election speak for itself?” said ROSE in a press statement.

“Further, we need to ask the EC chairman what does the EC intend to do about the 4 million disenfranchised Malaysians who are still unregistered voters? Is it not the job of any Election Commission (instituted under our Federal Constitution) to ensure that every eligible Malaysian over 21 years of age gets to be registered as a voter?”

In this earlier statement, the EC chairman also alleges that the reason for the non-renewal of all the ARO from political parties after the general elections in 2013 was that there was abuse of process by these appointees.

He also stated that these problems have since gone down through the use of assistant voting registrars from government agencies, non-governmental organisations and village development and safety committees.

It was also reported in Parliament recently that 373,467 new voters were registered from May 2013-May 2015 (two years) this means that yearly, Malaysia sees only an increase of 185,000 new voters out of that 4 million unregistered voters. Thus, ROSE has to question again why is the EC really restricting the channels of registration?

The chairman also said “In addition, he said the proposal would see large-scale new voter registration giving rise to the issue of phantom voters and the EC would finally be blamed by the discontented parties.”

ROSE believes that this statement is at best speculative and its does not inspire confidence of the public in the EC and worst, confirms the EC’s prejudices against “certain quarters”.

Its aim is building a society where ordinary citizens or voters engage in the democratic process and participate in the process of nation-building.