The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) launches the #VoteFuture campaign today with a clarion call to all Malaysians to exercise their right to vote and to determine their own future. The critical role that elected Governments play to formulate policies, enact laws and deliver public services, does shape the future of this country and sometimes for generations to come. A good government elevates the country, a bad one brings disgrace and robs the future of our children.
In the 15th General Election (GE15), we are facing several major challenges to persuade voters to come out and vote and it will be difficult to achieve voters turnout rates of over 80 percent as we had for GE13 and GE14. With the implementation of UNDI18 and Automatic Voters Registration (AVR), the electoral roll saw an increase of 42 percent compared to GE14. If all those who voted in GE14 turned up on 19 November, the turnout would only be 58 percent. We need at least 2.5 million first-time voters to vote in order to achieve a 70 percent turnout. Other major challenges to a high voters turnout are the holding of GE15 during the monsoon season or UndiBanjir and the general disillusionment with politics post-Sheraton Move.
Democracy is only meaningful when there is mass participation by the citizens in the available processes and the election process is the process to choose who has the mandate to govern for the next five years. A low turnout will still deliver a legally constituted government but its legitimacy will be weakened by the knowledge that the vast majority of voters did not choose it. Such a government would find it difficult to make much needed structural changes to our institutions, economy, education, address important inter-communal issues and deliver important policies to address climate change, but would have to rely on short-term populist policies and handouts that may be detrimental in the long-term in order to stay in power.
With the #VoteFuture campaign, BERSIH wants to challenge all Malaysians, especially the youth and first-time voters to not allow others decide the future for them but to take charge of their own destiny by voting. With Automatic Voters Registration, all Malaysians 18 years old and above can just turn up to vote without any pre-registration. By not seizing the opportunity to vote in GE15, we are taking a gamble that the government elected will be the government we want and that we will be happy with the future they will be shaping for us.
For the launch of the #VoteFuture campaign, we are releasing a special short video that carries a message from the cross-section of Malaysian society. We will also be releasing on a daily basis until Polling Day, posters and short videos with the theme of future on all media platforms. We also want the public who agrees with our narrative of voting for our future to amplify this message by putting out on their social media accounts this message in the form of posters, short videos or even write about it. To facilitate this, we have prepared a media kit with the necessary graphic files and information at this link – https://bit.ly/KitVoteFuture.
We are collaborating with various NGOs and media organisations with some directly carrying our #VoteFuture logo while others complement their own campaigns by focusing on the theme future as well. We hope that with the concerted efforts of many of us, we can inspire Malaysians to come out in large numbers to vote on 19 November, to celebrate democracy and stake our claim on the future of Malaysia.
Statement issued by:
The Steering Committee of BERSIH