An open letter to EC
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP National Publicity Secretary
in Petaling Jaya
What the Election Commission should do for greater fairplay and democracy
The EC's decision to conduct year-round voter registration at all post offices as of July 16, 2002 is in the right direction. This new measure allows citizens who attain the rightful age of 21 to register themselves as voters immediately and conveniently.
We had in the past proposed numerous suggestions to improve and reform the registration exercise and other aspects of the electoral system whenever we met up with the EC. We hope the EC will speed up reforms in the electoral system for greater fairplay and democracy in the country.
The EC is now asking for wider powers in handling elections. They want more powers especially in the area of enforcement. While I welcome some of the suggestions made by the EC (such as removing the Electorate Roll Check Points run by the contesting parties as the EC is already providing the service at all polling centres), I am very disappointed with the EC for not taking more steps to regain the confidence of the people in general, and the political parties in particular.
The EC should seriously consider taking the following steps to ensure greater fairplay and democracy in future elections:
Minimum age for voting
- The EC should seriously consider lowering the minimum age for voting from 21 to 18 years in line with practices in other counries such as Australia and considering the age of majority being 18 years.
· Clean up all electorate rolls and make it available for public inspection
· All voters to wear an identity card specially issued by the EC (To emulate the Indian election)
· All voters to be marked with a special ink after casting of votes (To emulate the Philippines election)
· No transfer of voters from the original constituency without prior notice
· No change of polling station for voters without prior notice
· Agents and representatives of candidates should be allowed to monitor polling procedure in police depots and army camps
· All redelineation exercises should be carried out independently without any intervention by the ruling parties
· To uphold the principle of "one man one vote", the ratio of voters of different constituencies should not exceed the 2:1 ratio at all times
Expenditure and money politics
· The EC must ensure that all candidates to adhere to the stipulated limits.
· All ministers and government leaders are prohibited from using government vehicles and other facilities for campaigning purposes
· The EC should ensure that all political parties are given equal opportunity to appear on state-owned electronic media, such as TV and radio stations
· The EC should ensure that all political parties are allowed to advertise in all media
· The EC should ensure all political parties are given equal opportunity in holding political ceramahs and gatherings
· The EC should ensure sufficient time for election campaigns. The current 10-day period is simply too short and unfair to the opposition which have no access to electronic media and insufficient space in the print media
· The deposit set by the EC is prohibitive to candidates with weaker financial standing. The EC should revert to the amount set prior to the recent amendments