Reform committee mulls putting EC in charge of political party registration

Yiswaree Palansamy
Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman speaks to reporters at Putrajaya August 29, 2018. ― Picture by Abdul Razak Ghazali

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 29 — The Registrar of Societies should not be tasked with registering political parties, said the Election Reforms Committee (ERC).

ERC chairman Tan Sri Ab Rashid Ab Rahman said the function should instead come under the Election Commission, which should also be responsible for monitoring their activities.

“When they have the power to register, they will also have the power to monitor.

“We are looking into that. Possibility of taking away that power from RoS,” he said.

The RoS, which is an agency under the Home Ministry, is currently the sole regulator on all registered societies and their activities, and that includes political parties.

During the press conference, Ab Rashid ― a former EC chairman ― said that the ERC would also be looking into senate elections, but is awaiting the government’s request to study its possibility.

“Yes, you have to produce an Act to enable that kind of elections to be carried out. If the government says, ‘since we have the committee, can you do this also?’ Then we will do. We are willing to do.

“We will be very happy to produce that law,” he added.

Former DAP national chairman, the late Karpal Singh had in 2013, called for Parliament to enact a law to allow senate elections in all states, The Star reported.

He reportedly said that this was in accordance to Article 45(4)(b) of the Federal Constitution, which already allows each state to hold public elections to choose its Senators.

Article 45(4) of the constitution states that “Parliament may by law (a) increase to three the number of members to be elected for each State; (b) provide that the members to be elected for each State shall be so elected by the direct vote of the electors of that State; (c) decrease the number of appointed members or abolish appointed members”.

Parliament however, needs to pass a resolution to bring into effect the said clause.

In the press conference today, the ERC said that it has 15 agendas to be fulfilled within two years.

They include matters relating to elections conduct, campaign funding and expenditures, registration of voters and preparation of electoral rolls as well as a review of the current first-past-the-post election system “to another system considered more appropriate”, and electoral observers.

The ERC was officially announced on August 16, and is placed under the Prime Minister's Office, tasked with studying ways and making recommendations on reviewing the country's electoral system and regulations.

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