BERSIH 2.0 notes the Election Commission’s (EC) new campaign with AirAsia and Sinar Harian in offering newly registered voters a chance to win free flights. However, we question the need to offer gifts to entice people to register to vote when it is the EC’s basic duty to do so in the first place.

Instead of offering freebies, the EC should focus their resources on implementing automatic voter registration thus eradicating the need for voter registration drives completely. Automatic voter registration will be electronically linked with the National Registration Department (NRD) and will eliminate lack of addresses, duplicate entries, as well as remove deceased persons, and other dubious entries from the electoral roll. The EC has yet to engage with BERSIH 2.0 on this issue which we have been pushing for since our inception.

Furthermore, the EC is playing Jekyll and Hyde in their actions. They allow baseless objections against new voters, revoked political party’s Assistant Registrar Officers (AROs) after GE13, and complicate and lengthen the process of acquiring ARO status making them a scarce resource. They have placed obstacles and restrictions in the way of registering new voters, yet now they are giving rewards to coax more people to register to vote.

If the EC stays consistent in their goals, they should be supporting voter registration campaigns regardless of name or brand and this includes our U Campaign. In fact, BERSIH 2.0 wrote to the EC just last week asking for support and resources for our campaign, including requesting for approval of at least 20 AROs from BERSIH 2.0 to speed up voter registration. We have yet to hear back from them.

While the EC is now seemingly finally doing their job of registering voters, BERSIH 2.0 urges them to seriously consider implementing automatic voter registration before any state or national elections. We should not have to resort to handing out freebies for people to exercise their basic democratic right.

Signed by the BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee members