So you want to be a candidate

NST: 17 Feb 2008
Aniza Damis and Tan Choe Choe
EVEN before we are born, while our mother is gasping in pain, a form has to be filled in to admit her to the maternity ward.
When we enter school, we have to fill in a form every school year. We learn to fill in our name, our father’s and mother’s names, residential address, height, weight, Melayu, Cina, India dan Lain-lain, and our ambition when we grow up – lawyer, doctor, engineer.
So, you would think that when it comes to filling in a Nomination Form during elections, a candidate would get it right. It’s a cinch, isn’t it?
But who can forget Shamsiah Rosidah bte Brahim’s heart-felt wailing on TV when she realised she had been disqualified from contesting – on a technicality.
If nowhere else, Johor is a Barisan Nasional stronghold; proud of its 100 per cent victory record.
That was shattered in 2004 when Shamsiah gave her opposition challenger, Mohd Ramli bin Md Kari from Pas, a walkover for the N24 Senggerang, Johor, state seat.
Shamsiah was inconsolable, embarrassed, and, for a period, went into hiding, because so many people were angry with her.
Her mistake? Her proposer and seconder were not registered voters in the constituency she intended to contest.
Who would have thought?
We are not going to teach you how to fill in the nomination paper here. You can read all that in the Election Commission’s booklet, Ketelusan Urusan Penamaan Calon Dalam Pilihan Raya (Transparency in the Process of Candidate Nomination in the Elections).
But there are a few things that a candidate should know about Nomination Day.
In essence, there are only five things that matter on Nomination Day:
1. The nomination period is very, very short. Between 9am and 10am on nomination day. So, whatever you do, don’t oversleep, don’t choose to go to the toilet at that time, and don’t get stuck in a traffic jam during that hour.
Just get to the correct Nomination Centre on time, or it’s over before it starts. The Election Officers are not going to care – Adios! Come back for the next election.
2. Even though someone is supposed to propose you and someone else is seconder, the reality is, you, the candidate, choose these people to put your name up. Like the rest of your life, you have to choose your friends very very carefully, otherwise they will ruin your life.
Make sure that both the proposer and seconder are registered voters in the constituency you intend to contest.
Make sure they are not bankrupts.
And make sure they turn up at the Nomination Centre on time, too.
“In Batu Talam, one candidate was left desperately standing at the nomination centre, because his proposer and seconder did not come to the nomination centre, and they hadn’t signed the nomination form. So, he was unable to contest,” said Election Commission secretary Datuk Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor.
3. Submit the correct nomination paper.
A person contesting a Parliamentary seat has to submit Form 4 (nomination form) and Form 5 (statutory declaration). A person contesting a State seat has to submit Form 4A and Form 5A.
It’s that simple.
Fill in the nomination papers properly – don’t do it in a rush. You don’t have to wait for the nomination day and hour to fill in the nomination paper.
You can buy the necessary forms from any Election Commission office for RM20 a set. These forms became available as soon as the dates for nomination and election were made known.
So, go out and buy them now, sit down and fill it in. Make sure the information is correct, and then sign it. Get your proposer and seconder to sign it, and then get the witness to sign it, too.
Forms have to be filled in triplicate, that is, in sets of three each. And use only the national language, Bahasa Malaysia, to fill in the forms.
And then, on nomination day, all you have to do it submit it at the right Nomination Centre, between 9am and 10am.
The nomination papers can be submitted by either the candidate, the proposer or seconder, or all three.
4. Pay the deposit. RM10,000 for a parliamentary seat, and RM5,000 for a state seat. This is non-negotiable – either you have it, or you don’t contest.
“In Pengkalan Pasir, Kelantan, an independent candidate did not take along enough money for the deposit. He wanted to borrow the remainder from the Returning Officer,” said Kamaruzaman. Obviously, this is not allowed.
Preferably, a candidate should pay the deposit ahead of time, before the nomination day. This is because a candidate might forget to take along the deposit, and to get RM10,000 in less than one hour is nearly impossible.
“You can pay the deposit to the Returning Officer, or at the State Election Office,” said Kamaruzaman. “The deposit has to be paid either in cash in Malaysian Ringgit only, or by bank draft. Personal cheques are not accepted.”
“So, on nomination day, all the candidate has to do is to produce the receipt.”
5. Having submitted your nomination form, you then have to wait one short hour to know whether your nomination has been accepted or not. It may be rejected if you have not filled in the forms correctly, or if it is found that you have been disqualified from being a member of parliament or state legislative assembly.
The list of how you can get disqualified is quite long. Many candidates, however, get disqualified because they didn’t submit their election expenses form after the last elections.
This can disqualify a candidate for five years from the time the last election results were gazetted. If this happens to you, don’t even bother coming to the nomination centre on nomination day.
So, there you have it. All the most important things you need to know about being a candidate on nomination day.
It is actually interesting to note, that while the proposer and seconder have to be registered voters in the constituency, and the voters have to be registered in the constituency, the candidate himself does not have to be a registered voter to contest in the election!