EC working committee studying raft of electoral reform proposals

Nor Ain Mohamed Radhi

BANGI: Lowering the minimum voting age to 18 and introducing an automatic voter registration system were among the proposals discussed by the Election Commission’s (EC) working committee recently in its efforts to carry out electoral reforms.

EC secretary Datuk Mohamed Elias Abu Bakar said the recently-formed working committee is studying recommendations forwarded to the EC from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other social bodies.

“We are currently scrutinising all the input given and we have already formed clusters on the suggestions.

“Although not all suggestions can be materialised, we are studying them,” he said when met at the Balakong by-election nomination centre here today.

He said the EC is committed to carrying out electoral reforms, and pointed to the recent inclusion of election observers as its first successfully-implemented reform.

Elias said the Sungai Kandis by-election earlier this month saw the presence of representatives from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

“They (observed) everything and told us that they are very confident with us.

“(As for the upcoming Balakong and Seri Setia by-elections), disabled observers will be included. (This is to) allow them to monitor how disabled voters are treated during (elections),” he added.

Elias said EC officers have held initial meetings with the ERC and look forward to further discussions on electoral reform. Pix by Mohd Yusni Ariffin

On Thursday, the government formed a special committee to review Malaysia’s election system and laws.

In announcing the development, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said that the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) will be chaired by former EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.

The committee has been given two years to complete its tasks, which include submitting a report and acknowledgements on reforms, which the government will fine tune and implement.

Elias said EC officers have held initial meetings with the ERC and look forward to further discussions on electoral reform.

Meanwhile, when asked about calls by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) to investigate alleged misconduct committed by seven election commissioners during the 14th general election (GE14), Elias declined comment.

“I cannot comment on that, because I was appointed after (the GE14),” he said.

On Tuesday, Bersih 2.0 appealed to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to establish a tribunal to investigate seven election commissioners.

The seven are former EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah; current deputy chairman Tan Sri Othman Mahmood; and five current commissioners – Datuk Md Yusop Mansor, Datuk Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Sulaiman Narawi, Datuk K. Bala Singam and Datuk Leo Chong Cheong.

Hashim resigned from his post on July 1. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd