Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at a dinner given by members, workers and supporters of the DAP Port Kemang Parliamentary constituency and its five constituent state constituencies held at Port Dickson on Sunday, 22 nd Sept. 1974 at 8 p.m.
DAP calls on the Elections Commission to forget about wanting voters who had been deregistered to write to it by Oct. 2, but institute a thorough system to check the magnitude of the deregistration of voters through its ‘computer’ system
We read in today’s press that the Elections Commission has given Oct. 2 as the deadline for voters wishing to complain about their names being left out of the electoral rolls to write in their complaints to the Commission.
The deregistration of voters who had previously appeared on the electoral register and had even voted was the biggest elections scandal in the 1974 general elections which helped the National Front to win its present number of Parliamentary and State Assembly seats.
A thorough and comprehensive inquiry must be instituted into this shocking mass disenfranchisement of Malaysian voters. Large numbers of Malaysians have completely lost confidence in the Elections Commission. The Elections Commission could still redeem itself and regain public confidence if it could get to the root of the entire problem of deregistration of voters and devise a system whereby every Malaysian above the age of 21 is automatically a voter, without all the red tape and bureaucratism about registration and deregistration.
The Elections Commission should forget about requiring voters to write in by Oct. 2 if they have complaints about their names being left out of the electoral rolls during the 1974 general elections. If the Elections Commission does not recognise the magnitude of the problem of deregistration of voters, then something is terribly wrong with the present Election Commission officials.
When the Elections Commission cancelled and deregistered the voters, the Elections Commission did not write to the voter concerned that they were going to deregister his or her name. Why then the present requirement for the voters to write to the Elections Commission, which because of the multitude of difficulties, will be a guarantee that only a handful of persons from the quarter of a million of deregistered voters would write in.
We have been told that the Elections Commission have many computers to do its work. I suggest that the Elections Commission should make use of its computers to find out the magnitude of this problem. The Elections Commission should take the 1974 Electoral Register and compare it with the 1969 electoral register, and prepare a list of those whose name had appeared in the 1969 roll but have been omitted from the 1974 roll.
After this list has been prepared, then the Elections Commission should find out how many of these persons had died, moved house or had simply not moved at all and had their names arbitrarily deregistered and robbed of their democratic right to vote.
It is not difficult at all to devise a system whereby every Malaysian citizen above the age of 21 years old is a registered voter. If the Elections Commission cannot devise such a system, the DAP will devise the system for it. The question is whether the Elections Commission wants to have a competent system of registration of voters at all.