33 parties enough Registrar of Societies: This is essential for political stability

By Farrah Naz Karim, NST

“Political stability is important and the freezing of new applications will give us better focus on nation-building and, to an extent, free us from our in-house power struggle.”

PUTRAJAYA: The Registrar of Societies is recommending that the number of political parties be capped at the present 33 as the nation needs a respite from the draining politicking witnessed since the March 2008 general election.

Registrar Datuk Abdul Rahman Othman said up to 25 applications to register new parties had been received since the 12th nationwide polls.

He said the freeze would offer a muchneeded “sabbatical”.

“Political stability is important and the freezing of new applications will give us better focus on nation-building and, to an extent, free us from our in-house power struggle,” he said in his first interview since taking office late last year.

The freeze proposal has been submitted to the Home Ministry.

The ROS is of the view that some political parties and those awaiting registration are hoping to mobilise the people for their own political advantage and mileage. They jump onto the political bandwagon without any clear ideologies or struggles with the hope of using the people as a bargaining chip for their own interests.

Rahman argued that many of the applicants believed the people could be fooled into thinking they could have whatever they wanted in exchange for their votes.

Hence, the surge in applications.

“We have to look at the strength of a party as those with great ambitions must be able to meet the people’s aspirations.

“We have parties where the leaders may be able to muster as few as 100-odd followers. They will not have any impact on society. By right, they should just join any existing party.” The ROS believes only well-represented parties can pursue their struggles well.

Asked if it was for him to decide that 33 was the right number, Rahman said as a public person representing the government, this was a matter of concern as decisions he made had consequences on the people.

He felt a freeze would be best for the country and its 28 million people, at least for now.

The ROS was also of the view that Malaysia’s nation-building efforts had failed to be optimised as an immense power struggle by existing parties had been plaguing the country.

“This is a young country and having been held back by many obstacles in the past, our nation-building process still has a long way to go.”

Asked if disallowing new parties inhibited the democratic process, Rahman said this was not the case as those aspiring to contest in the general election could do so on the ticket of existing parties or as independents.

“Look at the case of Batu Laut assemblyman Cikgu Jabar. He had strong support from his constituents as an independent, until he joined a political party.”

(Abdul Jabar Yusof held the Selangor seat for three terms from 1974.)

To a question, Rahman conceded that it was likely that the 25 applications, marked “Keep In View” would remain so. Of the 25, 13 were from Sabah.

“To me, there is no need to approve even one more new party. However, the government has the final say in this,” the former Immigration chief said.

The ROS has to date struck off 25 political parties.