Opposition members and their BN counterparts failed to reach a consensus over four areas with regard to electoral reforms.
KUALA LUMPUR: Four of the 22 recommendations by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms have failed to receive full consensus from the nine-member panel.
At the PSC’s final meeting on March 28, the panel’s three opposition members filed objections over postal voting for the media and Election Commission (EC) officials, voter registration at the age of 20, a lengthening of the campaign period and further research into automatic registration.
The three Pakatan Rakyat members on the panel were Gombak MP (PKR) Azmin Ali, Kuala Krai MP (PAS) Hatta Ramli and Rasah MP (DAP) Anthony Loke.
The committee had recently requested all media personnel assigned to cover the general election to submit an application to be registered as postal voters – a facility gazetted under Regulation 3 (1) (f) of the Elections (Postal Voting) Regulation 2003.
It also recommended that the EC reduce its own number of postal voters by assigning officials for duty at their respective constituencies.
The Pakatan representatives, however, disagreed with the above and pushed for both media personnel and EC officials on duty to be provided with early voting facilities.
The committee meanwhile noted that Article 119 of the Federal Constitution had decreed that voter registration be given an age limit of 21 years.
It had recommended that the age requirement for registration be lowered to 20 but the voting age be kept to 21, and that this recommendation be passed in time for the 13th general election.
The Pakatan representatives, on the other hand, recommended that the voter registration age be further lowered to 18 and carried out automatically.
The current campaign period as gazetted under the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981 allocated a minimum seven-day campaign period.
The committee, however, recommended that EC set a longer campaign period of a minimum of 10 days to allow for more campaigning and to ensure sufficient time for the handling of postal votes.
But the committee also noted that a lengthy campaign period would burden candidates in certain constituencies as well as send expenditure sky-rocketing.
Pakatan members, meanwhile, pushed for the campaign period to be extended even further to a minimum of 21 days to enable overseas Malaysians to carry out their voting duties.
RCI into dubious voters
Automatic voter registration was among the eight recommendations by Bersih 2.0 which had not received an enthusiastic response from the government and the EC.
The committee acknowledged that this recommendation had sound basis but that it could only be executed in the long-term as efforts to clean up the electoral role took precedence.
It pointed out that further investigation into Sabah’s dubious electoral roll and its recommendations pertaning to the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) had to be carried out first to produce an electoral roll that wins the trust of all quarters.
The committee therefore recommended that the EC further study this area and take action within 12 months so as to enable this step to be implemented in the future.
But this timeframe did not go down well with the Pakatan members who insisted that automatic voter registration be carried out with immediate effect.
Pakatan yesterday declared the polls reform panel a failure as it had failed to meet its objectives even after six months of discussions and numerous public hearings.
Its three representatives said that the panel had fallen short of expectations by failing to address fundamental concerns over the country’s election system.
They also filed a notice for a minority report to be attached to the PSC final draft which was tabled in Parliament today.
The minority report would contain a detailed explanation on these fundamental issues related to the electoral role which had yet to be resolved.