Election Commission should launch a three-month campaign, involving all political parties, NGOs, academic research groups and the civil society to cleanse the “dirty” electoral roll of the 2.8 million phantom voters to produce a clean electoral list for the next general election
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The call for major reforms in the country’s electoral system before it loses its legitimacy could not be more appropriate and timely and the Election Commission should be humble, independent and non-partisan enough to act on the “Recommendations for Reforms to the Malaysian Electoral System” unveiled yesterday by the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (Ikmas) of the University Kebangsaan Malaysia.
The recommendations are the outcome of a two-year study on the electoral system by Ikmas, which warned that “the Malaysian electoral system and the process of legitimation coming from it is increasingly under strain”.
That the Election Commission has deviated far from its constitutional mandate to conduct free, fair and clean elections is powerfully substantiated by the revelation of the Ikmas associate fellow and project leader Dr. Mavis Puthucheary who said that the computer analysis conducted by the research team on samples of the electoral roll found a high number of persons registered under a single address, and “in some cases as many as 90 names”.
Mavis said the Election Commission is aware of this, “yet seems to be reluctant to carry out investigation”.
When the Election Commission is blind, deaf, indifferent or helpless about the existence of a “dirty” electoral roll with a phenomenally high percentage of 30 per cent of the registered voters who are “phantom voters” – an allegation made by the Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and backed up by his deputy, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi about 2.8 million “phantom voters last November – its legitimacy and that of the electoral system are facing an unprecedented crisis of confidence.
Ikmas has made pertinent and important proposals for major reforms to the electoral system, such as system of appointment of Election Commission members, a fair and clean election campaign as lifting the blanket ban on public rallies, the role of the media and the civil society in ensuring free and fair elections and fair and democratic redelineation of electoral constituencies, but they are likely to remain ambitious and unrealistic proposals when the Election Commission cannot even perform its most elementary duty to cleanse the “dirty” electoral roll of the 2.8 million “phantom voters” or to ensure that all eligible voters could be registered on the electoral register in the most efficient and hassle-free manner.
DAP proposes a modest start in electoral reform – the cleansing of the “dirty” electoral roll and removal of the 2.8 million “phantom voters”.
The Election Commission should launch a three-month campaign, involving all political parties, NGOs, academic research groups and the civil society to cleanse the “dirty” electoral roll of the 2.8 million phantom voters to produce a clean and honest voters’ list – so that Malaysia’s eleventh national general election which could be held in December this year would not be marred by a “dirty”: electoral register with millions of “phantom voters”.
Is such a campaign to clean up the electoral register of phantom voters before the next general election simply beyond the means, capability and imagination of the Election Commission?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman