by DAP MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock
in Petaling Jaya
on Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Imported voters: Reiterate the DAP's call that the EC must hold an all party meeting to solve and prevent such phenomenon
In today's Star, it was reported that the Election Commission chairman Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman admitted that the practice of moving voters from one constituency to another was not something new and all political parties had been doing it over the last 20 years.
I have contacted Datuk Abdul Rashid this afternoon and he has clarified to me that he did not say that all political parties were involved. He said that the shifting of voters had happened over the last 20 years and " may be political parties are involved".
With the EC chairman's admission that the phenomenon of import voters has happened for such along time, I would like to reiterate the DAP's call that the EC must immediately convene an all party meeting to work out an effective mechanism and strategy with twin objectives, firstly to clean up the nation's electoral rolls before the next general election and secondly, to prevent the future occurrence of import voters.
The DAP has in the past, inside and outside the Parliament, made persistent protests and complaints about the existence of phantom voters (which have now been descried as imported voters by Datuk Abdul Rashid) and called for actions from the EC, but always to no avail.
Now that the EC has admitted the existence of such phenomenon over the last two decades, the EC cannot and must not run away or delay anymore in tackling this issue, especially when the EC's admission has marred the credibility of the past general elections.
The EC must tackle the imported voters' issue with the utmost urgency not only to ensure that there will be clean electoral rolls comes the next general election, but also to restore public confidence in the will, preparedness and ability of the EC in ensuring that the coming general elections in the country are free, fair and clean.
DAP MPs are prepared to support any necessary legislative proposal which may be made by the EC with the objetive of solving and preventing the occurrence of the imported voters.
I must however remind the EC that in order to effectively stop such practice of shifting of voters by political parties or individuals, it must be prepared to listen to the opinions of all political parties. It must also realise that effective prevention can only take place during the voter registration exercise and not after the rolls have been prepared and ready for public display.
The continued harping by the EC on the failure of political parties to check the electoral rolls before the general election simply shows that the EC has refused to acknowledge the fact that it is the primary responsibility of the EC to install mechanisms to prevent manipulation of the rolls. It also shows that the EC has yet to realise that the most effective prevention can only happen during the voter registration process.
By expecting the political parties to identify the imported voters before any by election or general election, the EC has certainly not understood how difficult it is for any political party or individual to do so. This is one reason why probably until today the EC still makes the wrong and unfair conclusion that political parties do not play their part and check the rolls before an election but only make noise about the phantom voters (now called imported voters) after the election so as to seek justification for their defeats.
As the EC has also revealed before that its temporary registration clerks had been involved in the shifting of voters, it must therefore seek ways to ensure that with the new year round voter registration process, such actions, irrespective of whether they were done in collaboration or otherwise with any political party, must be effectively stopped and the culprits be severely dealt with by the laws.