Electoral reforms: Big changes on the way

(FMT) – The EC has agreed to implement several proposals on electoral reforms as soon as possible.


KUALA LUMPUR: The Election Commission (EC) has agreed to implement a series of suggestions made by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms.

PSC chairman Maximus Ongkili said today that the EC will implement the proposals “as soon as possible”.

First on the list is the use of the controversial indelible ink. This will be implemented by the middle of this month once amendments to the election regulations have been gazetted.

This means the ink would be used in the coming general election.

Ongkili said the use of the indelible ink is in the final stages of implementation.

“It will be ready for use once the amended law is gazetted on Feb 15,” he told reporters after a meeting with EC representatives including its chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof.

Another proposal to be implemented on Feb 15 will allow friends of the disabled registered voters to accompany and mark the ballot sheets on behalf of the latter.

Previously, only family members were allowed to accompany the disabled to vote.

The PSC tabled its interim report in Parliament on Nov 30 listing 10 proposals for implementation.

Following this, the EC announced on Dec 19 that it will implement the use of the indelible ink after it received the green light from the National Fatwa Council that it is not detrimental to the religious rituals of the Muslims. On Jan 11, the Fatwa Council agreed to the use of the ink.

Early voting

Other suggestions will be implemented during the first week of April. This includes abolishing the objection process and withdrawal period for candidates once they have been nominated.

Another big change concerns early voting by police and armed forces and their spouses. Ongkili said the EC agreed that representatives from political parties can now observe the early voting process even if it was held “in the barracks, police stations or camps”.

Previously, observers were not allowed to enter these places.

The EC announced in December that the armed forces and police who are not stationed at the borders will vote early and not through postal voting. This will involve some 200,000 members of the armed forces.

Postal votes, however, will still be carried out for armed forces personnel based at the borders and for EC employees who are on duty on polling day.

Ongkili also said the EC had agreed “in principle” that journalists may be allowed to vote by post while they are on duty on election day.

However, a final decision has yet to be taken.

In December, the EC said that it was considering allowing journalists, doctors and nurses to vote early.

Study trip

But today, Ongkili said that nurses and doctors will not have to vote early after the EC had consulted with the Health Ministry.

“The ministry has given a guarantee that nurses and doctors will not be hindered from voting on polling day and so they will vote as usual,” he said.

On overseas vote, he said the matter was not discussed to allow all Malaysians living abroad to vote. Currently only government employees, army personnel and full-time students can vote overseas.

“The EC has yet to provide a list of conditions to be imposed on Malaysians living abroad to qualify them as voters,” he said.

However, Ongkili said that the PSC will go on a study trip to the UK, Germany and Denmark at the end of this month to learn about the election processes in these countries including election funding and media access.

Read more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/2012/02/09/electoral-reforms-big-changes-on-the-way/