30 October 2007
BERSIH reiterates its call for not only a clean electoral roll, but for a electoral system which must enfranchise as many eligible voters as possible. Currently, there are 4 million Malays above 21 years of age not registered on the roll.
Voluntary voter registration in Malaysia is either flawed or, more
cynically, a systemic mechanism constructed to frustrate, not assist, the registration of new voters.
The figures speak for themselves. There are approximately 15 million Malaysian citizens over the legal voting age of 21, but only 10 million or so are registered on the current electoral roll.
In other words, a third of voting-age adults is outside the electoral
process. Of the 4.9 million Malaysian citizens of voting age who have yet to register as voters, 80% are Malays. And what is more, 80% of them are urban youths aged between 21 and 30. By default, there are nearly 4 million disenfranchised Malays in the electoral process.
BERSIH feels that a system that disenfranchises a third of the
eligible citizenry from voting by default is a flawed one that demands immediate attention.
While automatic registration of voters is not part of BERSIH’s
immediate demands, it is one way out of the current quagmire and, technically, it is perfectly possible for the Election Commission to
do so with immediate effect, so long as relevant electoral laws and
regulations are amended.
Since July 2002, the Election Commission has been able to access voter information from the National Registration Department (NRD) database by merely entering the identity card number of a voter. Both the NRD and EC should take it a step further and share their databases and free the EC from the laborious task of voter registration — a task the EC has not carried out very well, judging from the number of eligible citizens it has failed to get on to the electoral roll.
Voter registration is a costly endeavour. To be precise, it will cost
RM30 million for the recent voter registration exercise. This money would be better spent on ensuring that future elections are clean, free and fair.
Key to clean, free and fair elections is an electoral roll that is free of irregularities and discrepancies, one of the four main demands of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH). The other three demands are the use of indelible ink (which was approved in August this year), the abolition of domestic postal voting and fair access to the mass media.
To draw attention to its demands, BERSIH is having a People?s
Gathering on 10 November 2007 at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. Themed “Save Malaysia: Restore Our Rights!”, BERSIH’s campaign for electoral reform aims to highlight the numerous electoral abuse and irregularities in the system, which is a complete mockery of our democratic process.
The colour theme for BERSIH People’s Gathering is yellow. For 10 days between 1 November and 10 November, we encourage all concerned Malaysians to wear some form of yellow clothing or item (such as a headband, armband or a ribbon) everyday to show their support and solidarity with BERSIH.
Launched in Parliament House on 23 November 2006, BERSIH is supported by 67 organisations, including non-governmental organizations and political parties.
BERSIH calls on EC to enfranchise 4 million eligible voters