Press Release: Denial of voting rights unconstitutional

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections BERSIH urges the Election Commission (EC) not to be so ‘arbitrary’ in their efforts to remove eligible voters from the electoral roll. Not only is the EC behaving like a stooge of the National Registration Department, this move is clearly unconstitutional.

BERSIH would like to remind the Commission that its first and foremost constitutional role is to ensure a free and fair election in accordance with the wishes of Malaysians. BERSIH is of the view that the EC’s resources should be placed on ensuring the credibility of the electoral roll by removing the names of the deceased and reviewing all suspicious registrations, such as instances of more than 100 voters at a single address.

In a news report in the New Straits Times on 16 July 2007, Election Commission Secretary Datuk Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor said that the Commission had decided to remove the names of more than 84,000 registered Malaysian voters with blue identity cards from the electoral roll unless they switch to the MyKad. “The move would standardize the roll, besides helping the National Registration Department to get all Malaysians to change to the 12-digit MyKad.”

In BERSIH’s meeting with the EC on 3 July 2007, EC Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Rahman and Datuk Kamaruzaman both insisted that Article 119 of the Federal Constitution prevented the Commission from deleting the problematic entries in the roll unless they are proven to be dead, not or no longer citizens or disqualified under Article 119 of the Federal Constitution.

Article 119 (1) states that “Every citizen who (a) has attained the age of twenty-one years on the qualifying date; (b) is resident in a constituency on such qualifying date or, if not so resident, is an absent voter; and (c) is, under the provisions of any law relating to elections, registered in the electoral roll as an elector in the constituency in which he resides on the qualifying date; is entitled to vote….”

But the EC’s latest stand is incongruous with its cautious approach when it comes to removing suspicious registrations and the names of the deceased.

The EC should stop beating around the bush and acting as a stooge of the National Registration Department. It must focus on enhancing the credibility of the electoral roll so that Malaysians will have complete confidence in the EC’s “Cekap dan Telus” motto.