Empowering EC to register political parties among 15 proposals under consideration

Hidir Reduan and Zanariah Abd Mutalib

PUTRAJAYA: The Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) is looking into empowering the Election Commission (EC) to register political parties.

It is one of the 15 proposals that the ERC is studying to improve the country’s electoral law and system to ensure that elections are held in a transparent and free manner.

The committee’s chairman, Tan Sri Ab Rashid Ab Rahman, said the other proposals being studied included lowering the voting age to 18, automatic voter registration, review of Malaysia’s “first past the post” election system, public or state funding of political parties and a code of conduct for parties and candidates during election periods.

He said empowering the EC to register voters would enable it to conduct elections better and more credibly.

“We are looking into (enabling EC) to register political parties and manage them,” he told a press conference after an ERC meeting, here, today.

“We want an organisation (EC) that has more power and is able to deliver credible elections.

“The government wants new (election) laws in line with those in advanced democracies. We get two years to complete our work.

If our recommendations are accepted, there will be a stronger EC. The country can look forward to free and fair elections.”

On calls by Petaling Jaya member of parliament Maria Chin Abdullah and other lawmakers for the ERC be placed directly under Parliament, Rashid said the committee would study the recommendations for electoral reform and hand the results to Dewan Rakyat for debate and action.

He said the ERC was engaging the electoral watchdog, Bersih, and, in fact, one of its 18 members was from the NGO.

He said the committee also welcomed feedback from other stakeholders.

“We will present (the ERC report) to the public to get their feedback. Interested organisations can also give their input. If they wish for a dialogue, this is possible,” he said. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd