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Saturday, February 26, 2011

‘Unintelligent’ EC deputy chief ticked off


A shocked PKR women's wing says the Election Commission cannot just 'brush aside' automatic voter registration because it believes 'people are not bothered to vote.'

KUCHING: Election Commission deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar has come under attack for his flippant comment about the public in relation to calls for the automatic registration of voters.

Wan Ahmad had reportedly told a Bersih 2 forum in Petaling Jaya last week that “most people can’t be bothered to vote”, and questioned the point of “putting them (people) on the electoral roll if they don’t bother to vote”.

Describing his response as “irresponsible”, PKR national women’s wing vice-presidnet, Voon Siak Ni, said the question of whether the people are bothered or not “cannot justify the EC brushing aside” calls for automatic voter registration by civil societies and political parties.

“It is very irresponsible of him to make such an assumption. Is he trying to say that out of 4.1 million unregistered voters, all are not bothered to vote?

“Is that why they (people) do not register themselves? Or is it because it is inconvenient to register them due to distance, time, lack of information and resources?

“If automatic registration for eligible voters is implemented, then overnight, 4.1 million citizens are empowered to vote and the commission can save its millions of ringgit used to register voters one by one,” she said.

Critical situation

Voon said that such an “unintelligent explanation” by Wan Ahmad is the reason why a large section of the citizens persistently kept away from voting.

She said that if the country was serious about free and fair election and the principles of democracy, then every citizen should be accorded a chance to vote automatically once they reach the voting age of 21.

She said that in Sarawak, the situation was critical as the issue of low voter registration among Sarawakians had remained unresolved for over half a century.

“We wish to ask the commission why is the problem still unsolved? Is it a conscious intention to keep those under-registered groups from voicing their view through the ballot box?” she asked.

She added that it was not true the people were not bothered to vote.

Voon said that her Stampin branch, which has been carrying out voter registration together with other branches, had always received good responses from new registrants. - FMT

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