DAP calls on Elections Commission to co – operate with Opposition Parties by furnishing them with forms to Register voters

DAP Secretary – General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, today issued the following statement:

DAP calls on Elections Commission to co – operate with Opposition Parties by furnishing them with forms to Register voters

For the first time in the history of Malaysia, the Elections Commission has refused to give forms to register voters to Opposition Parties to help in the registration of eligible voters.

In every voter’s registration exercise in the past, Opposition parties had been able to get forms from the Elections Commission to help in this important work. The democratic process is only meaningful if every eligible voter can vote, which must mean that he should be registered.

The purpose of every registration of voters’ exercise should aim at the registration of maximum number of eligible voters – through the co-operation of all organisations and political parties. This year, however, the Elections Commission seems to have as its objective to register the minimum number of eligible voters – particularly in the towns and new villages.

The decision of the Elections Commission to alter its past practice of co-operating with Opposition Parties was made without any prior consultation or notification with the Opposition parties. This is highly regrettable, and can only end up in a more inefficient elections machinery with a large number of eligible voters excluded from the electoral registers, and therefore denied their basic democratic right to cast their vote in elections.

The Elections Commission is an independent body under the Malaysian Constitution entrusted with the duty of conducting elections and preparing and revising electoral rolls.

Its responsibility is to make the elections machinery and process as efficient and meaningful as possible. An elections machinery whereby large numbers of eligible voters are excluded from the electoral rolls is clearly an inefficient one, and which renders the democratic process even unmeaningful.

The DAP is duty – bound to express its concern at the arrangements by the Elections Commission this year in connection with the registration of voters and revision of electoral rolls.

For it has not only refused to co – operate with Opposition parties to ensuring maximum registration of eligible voters, it has also taken actions which will further ensure a low registration in many areas, particularly in towns and new villages.

Thus, although the registration exercise has been on for a week, very few people are aware of it. There appears to be a deliberate attempt to let as few people know about it as possible. This is why the mass media, the press and the television, and information vans, posters are hardly used to inform the eligible voters of the registration period.

Again, in the past, in new villages and areas where there are town and local councils, any eligible voter can go and register during the office hours. But this had been stopped. Thus, at Serdang Baru New Village and other new villages, eligible voters cannot go and register themselves during office hours any day of the week any more. There will be registration agents who will visit the new villages on a particular day of the week or month – which can only create inconvenience and minimize the total number of registrations.

We do not want at this stage to level accusations against the Elections Commission.

It is essential to the smooth functioning of the democratic machinery and process that the Elections Commission should be able to command public confidence and the confidence of all political parties, particularly the Opposition Parties.

The DAP, however, will not keep quiet if the Elections Commission continues to act in such a way which is clearly calculated to prevent the maximum number of registration of eligible voters – for this must throw open to question the impartiality and independence of the Elections Commission.

It is no use the Elections Commission claiming that it will also not give registration forms to the ruling party. For all we know, the Elections Commission will be appointing considerable number of Alliance members as registration agents to go out into Alliance strongholds to register Alliance-prone voters, to the neglect of areas where the Opposition has strong following.

If the Elections Commission is to maintain public confidence about its integrity, independence and impartiality, it must not give cause for any suspicion to arise about its efficient registration of all eligible voters.

I am surprised that last week, the Elections Commission Chairman, Tan Sri Ahmad Perang, said that when he met Mr. Fan Yew Teng, DAP National Organising Secretary, and Mr. Lee Lam Thye, DAP National Publicity Secretary, he was meeting them in their personal capacity.

Mr. Fan and Mr. Lee were representing the DAP when they called on Tan Sri Ahmad Perang. I do not believe that when Tan Sri Ahmad Perang met UMNO leaders like Inche Senu bin Abdul Rahman or Inche Musa Hitam, or other leaders like Tun Razak or Tun Ismail, he was meeting them in their individual and personal capacities. For if this is so, there is no purpose in any such meeting at all.

Such statement and attitudes by Tan Sri Ahmad Perang give considerable room for anxiety and suspicion about the independence, impartiality and integrity of the Elections Commission.

However, we hope that our reservations are unfounded, and that the Elections Commission will revert immediately to the old practice since Merdeka of co-operating with Opposition Parties by giving them registration forms to ensure maximum registration of eligible voters.

It will be pertinent to point out here that the Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, said in Parliament last month in answer to my question, that Opposition Parties will be given every facility to help in the registration of eligible voters.

The DAP repeats our call to the Elections Commission to co-operate with Opposition Parties, and to act fairly, justly and efficiently so as to command public confidence in its impartiality, independence and integrity. We hope it will not be necessary for us in the DAP to launch a national campaign against the Elections Commission for its partiality, subservience and injustice.