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Date: 08 Dec 1999
Who is irresponsible: Jomo, the Election Commission or Mahathir?
Professor Jomo has taken a suit against the Election Commission because almost 700,000 new voters have been denied their constitutional right to vote (and> not to vote) almost eight months after they registered.
Seventy per cent of these new voters are under> the age of 30. These new voters represent almost 7 per cent of the total electorate, and about 10 per cent of those who actually vote. It is clear their vote can change the outcome in many constituencies. The Elections Commission claims it cannot complete the new registration roll until after January 31, 2000.
In turn, caretaker Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad Thursday called on Jomo to step down because of his lawsuit. Mahathir described the lawsuit as "an irresponsible act, especially coming from someone who has never voted in an election," Bernama reported.
Caretaker Mahathir also defended the commission, saying that certain procedures had to be followed to ensure there were no phantom voters on the new electoral roll. But who is irresponsible, Jomo or the Elections Commission or Mahathir himself?
The Election Commission denies its decision has anything to do with politics. Acknowleding that the great majority of the new voters are below the age of 30, secretary of the Election Commission, Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, said that doesn't necessarily mean they would be likely to vote for the opposition.
By this statement alone, the Election Commission stands condemned. Whatever the belief of the Barisan Alternatif regarding the likely leanings of these new voters,that is not the issue. The issue is their right to vote, a right denied by the Election Commission although it was well within its power to set the election date so as to allow them to vote, or to speed up the processing for the same objective.
First, the Constitution states that elections have to be called within sixty days of the dissolution of Parliament. Parliament was dissolved on November 11. It could have set the elections as late as January 9,2000, and worked flat out to clear the register by then. But no, it set the polls in the shortest possible time.
Secondly, it is a matter of constitutional right, granted by Art 119. The Election Commission has a constitutional duty to ensure that this right is fully respected, and not at the convenience of the commission.
Thirdly, while procedures must be followed, it is clear that the Election Commission must take the award for gross inefficiency despite computerisation and Malaysia Boleh! talk.
New Zealand allows voter registration with full rights to vote right up to the day before polling day.
In Indonesia, poor, without an MSC and all the "Cinta IT" talk, it took only NINE DAYS (not months) to finalize and to issue the register for the June polls. Voter registration took place from April 5-May 4. final list of voters was ready on May 13! THREE WEEKS later, the register was used for the June 7 election. Note that we are not talking about 10 million voters as in the case of Malaysia, but 125 million Indonesian voters, involving more than 300,000 polling stations spread throughout the archipelago. We are talking about the second highest population in the world. Indonesia Boleh!
Or take the first elections in Cambodia, a country with barely an infrastructure to talk of. Voter registration took place from October-December 1992, and the polls were held from May 23-28, 1993. It took FIVE (not NINE) MONTHS. The number covered was 4.7 million. Cambodia Boleh?
Malaysia, an upper-middle income country, aspiring to be a developed country by 2020, needs all of NINE MONTHS to complete an annual voter registration. And even then, judging by the previous and present lists, the commission cannot clean it of phantom voters.
Mahathir's sweet talk of the need to clean the list of phantom voters is just that -- sweet talk! For the fact of the matter is that the list that will be used on November 29 contains phantom voters!
In any case, it was in Mahathir's power to dissolve Parliament after January 2000, when the new rolls would be ready. Why didn't he?
Finally, for a man who claims to want only the best for Malaysians, he is extremely cavalier about the rights of nearly 700,000 Malaysians. He should be fighting for their rights, and especially since he thinks they are going to vote for him. So much for his self-proclaimed concern about the democratic rights,sovereignty and independence of Malaysians.
So who is irresponsible? Jomo or the Election Commission or Mahathir?
+ Jawapan kita: rakyatlah yang tidak bertanggungjawab kerana masih mengekalkan MM sebagai PM khusunya melayu bangsat. Dia menggunakan kuasa besarnya terhadap SPR. Reformasi total tidak terhasil dalam pilihanraya '99. Selagi MM dan BN berkuasa selagi, pilihanraya Malaysia tidak telus dan tidak terbuka.