Place election reform committee under Parliament, say 6 MPs

Veena Babulal

KUALA LUMPUR: Several members of parliament (MP) have issued a statement urging the government to place the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) under the purview of Dewan Rakyat.

The statement, signed by six lawmakers, including Petaling Jaya MP and former chair of election watchdog Bersih Maria Chin Abdullah, pointed out that this was consistent with Promise 16 of the Pakatan Harapan 14th General Election (GE14) Manifesto which was to restore the dignity of Parliament.

“The Election Commission should also report to this parliamentary select committee on electoral reform since the EC is one of the nine agencies which will begin to report directly to Parliament soon,” the MPs said.

They said there was an urgent need to reform the electoral system and that many reforms had already been proposed in the 2012 Parliamentary Report of the Special Select Committee on Electoral Reforms, which included the suggestions of Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional MPs.

“These are the urgent and timely issues which a parliamentary select committee on electoral reform can get to work on immediately, rather than having to wait for two years,” the statement said.

“As such, we strongly urge for the creation of a parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms rather than the proposed creation of an Electoral Reform Committee which sits outside Parliament.

“This parliamentary select committee will be a permanent select committee which the Election Commission will report to as well as be scrutinised on the effectiveness of its policies, spending and administration.

“This proposal is consistent with the spirit and the letter of the Pakatan Harapan 14th General Election Manifesto.

“Some of these proposals are included in Promise 17 of the Pakatan Harapan 14th General Election Manifesto, which is to ensure the transparency and robustness of our election system, such as cleaning up the electoral roll, improving postal voting and providing a minimum 21-day campaign period.”

The lawmakers said some of the proposed electoral reforms required a constitutional amendment such as lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 (Article 119(1a) of the Federal Constitution).

“Others such as the automatic registration of voters or making it easier to cast postal votes especially for Sabahan and Sarawakian voters who are living, working or studying in Peninsular Malaysia are procedural issues which can be decided on without amending the constitution,” the MPs said.

The other co-signatories to the statement are Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, Ledang MP Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, Sibu MP Oscar Ling Chai Yew, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto and Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd