by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, July 24, 1994:
DAP calls on Election Commission to extend its 21-day Voters’ Registration Period to 42 days until August 21 to allow every eligible voter to register so as to be able to exercise his vote in the next general elections
DAP calls on the Commission to extend its 21-day Voters’ Registration Period to 42 days until August 21 to allow every eligible voter who has reached 21 years to register on the electoral roll so as to be able to exercise his vote in the next general elections.
The Election Commission normally conducts a 42-day Voters’ Registration exercise every year, as provided by law.
This is the second time since Merdeka in 1957 that the Election Commission is conducting a snap 21-day Voters’ Registration Exercise – the first time was before the 1990 general elections.
The conducting of a snap 21-day voters’ registration exercise when the general elections is due is most illogical and unjustifiable – for the very fact that general elections is around the corner should be the strong reason why the full 42-day period provided by law for voters’ registration should be adhered to so that every Malaysian eligible to vote can register and cast his vote in the general elections.
UMNO had formed a high-powered committee under the UMNO National Vice President and Defence Minister, Datuk Najib Tun Razak, several months ago and identified that there are 400,000 UMNO members and supporters who have not registered as voters.
It is open secret that the current 21-day voters’ registration exercise by the Election Commission is the result of pressure from UMNO which wants to register the 400,000 new UMNO voters before the next general elections.
Since the start of the 21-day voters’ registration exercise on July 11, UMNO had mobilized its entire party machinery throughout the country as well as misusing government resources and personnel especially KEMAS to reach its target of registering 400,000 new UMNO voters.
In actual fact, there are a total of 900,000 eligible voters who have not registering on the electoral roll, but UMNO – as well as MCA, Gerakan and other Barisan Nasional component parties – is not interested in registering the other 500,000 as voters.
Although public interest n voters’ registration had been greater in the last two weeks as compared to the past two years, the percentage of voters’ registration for the 500,000 is a far cry from the high percentage of registration for the UMNO target of 400,000 new UMNO voters.
By July 31, the last date for the 21-day voters’ registration exercise, I expect UMNO to reach 90 to 95 per cent of its target in wanting to register 400,000 new UMNO voter, i.e. registering some 60,000 to 380,000 new UMNO voters.
The percentage of registration of the balance of 500,000 eligible voters however is very low. From our sources of information, less than 20 per cent of this 500,000 eligible voters have registered themselves in the past two weeks, and by July 31, it might be raised to 30 to 35 per cent, or 150,000 to 175,000 new voters.
One important reason for the low rate of registration for the 500,000 potential voters is that arrangements for voters’ registration in the urban areas, particularly in areas where the DAP has considerable influence, are most unsatisfactory.
The Election Commission’s responsibility under the Constitution is to ensure that every Malaysian above 21 years can cost his vote in the general elections and the Election Commission should not devise a voters’ registration system denying Malaysians the right to vote in general elections.
For this reason, I call on the Election Commission to extend the deadline for the voters’ registration exercise from July 31 to August 21 so that Malaysians are not denied the opportunity and the right to vote because of unsatisfactory Election Commission arrangements with regard to voters’ registration.
The Election Commission has no good reason to refuse to extend the deadline for voters’ registration exercise from July 31 to August 21, so that the next general elections will be free, fair and clean without denying to hundreds of thousands of Malaysians their fundamental right as citizens to vote in the next general elections.