PSC expected to table interim report with changes to 12 areas

By Pauline Wong, The Sun

The Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reform is expected to table an interim report in the Dewan Rakyat tomorrow. Sources said the report recommends changes to the electoral process in almost a dozen areas, including use of indelible ink, the setting up of a royal commission, improvements to the nomination process and cleaning up of the electoral roll, which should be implemented before the next general election.

An official representing PSC chairman Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili (pix), however, told the press the report could not be divulged before it is tabled in Parliament.

Sources said, however, that among the PSC’s recommendations are that:

>> the EC’s independence be improved by increasing its manpower and maintaining its scope of power;

>> a Royal Commission be formed to investigate claims that foreigners have been registered as voters, especially in Sabah;

>> indelible ink be used for the next general election in the face of concerns that a voter may vote more than once;

>> the serial number on the ballot paper be removed to ensure anonymity of the votes, (serial number to be maintained only on the counterfoil of the ballot paper);

>> the withdrawal of nominations be disallowed;

>> the objection process on nomination day be annulled;

>> allowing members of the armed forces and police and their spouses to vote earlier;

>> allowing doctors, nurses and journalists to apply to be postal voters;

>> voters living or working far from their constituencies, (East Malaysians in peninsula or vice versa) be allowed to vote without having to return to their constituencies;

>> the EC takes measures to facilitate Malaysian voters living overseas to exercise their right to vote. (Currently, only civil servants and their spouses posted overseas and full-time students overseas have the privilege.);

>> any changes to a voter’s polling centre should be accompanied by a statutory declaration from the voter. (This arises from complaints from voters that their voting centres were changed without their knowledge.); and

>> cleaning up the electoral roll of deceased voters, voters with identical MyKad numbers, those aged above 90, voters who are not local to the constituency, multiple voters in one address and ineligible voters.

Commenting on the report, DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng said the party viewed it as “a step forward.”

“The report shows progress towards free, fair and clean elections,” Lim, adding that more needs to be done for electoral reform, but since it is an interim report, the DAP has given it interim acceptance.

He said the opposition will later continue to push for more reforms, among which will be to reduce the legal voting age from 21 to 18 years.