Minister: Need to redefine 'political party'

  • Nation
  • Monday, 19 May 2003

KUALA KLAWANG: The term “political party” needs fine-tuning under the Societies Act, 1966 to allow only politically-inclined non-government organisations (NGOs) to contest in the general election, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim. 

He said the current definition was “incomplete and inadequate”. 

“To assist the Election Commission in discharging its duty, the existing laws on what a political party is needs to be fine-tuned. 

“If this is not done, then based on a rough estimate, between 500 and 800 NGOs would be eligible to be called political parties. 

“These NGOs will develop an ‘appetite’ to contest in the general election even though they are not a political party. 

“It is just not that simple, and the only way out is to give a clearer definition,” he told reporters after taking part in a shooting contest organised by the Rela Jelebu divison yesterday. 

Commission chairman Datuk Wira Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said recently that NGOs could contest in the general election under their own tickets provided they register with the commission. 

Dr Rais said the remarks should be studied further in the context of the existing laws, as currently, “only political parties could contest”. 

“An NGO must first prove that it is political in nature before it can be registered as one. 

“Failing to do so will result in problems, misconceptions and even lead to a state of chaos in its functions,” he said, adding that most NGOs did not adopt a political framework or struggle but were inclined towards community service, education and environmental conservation.  

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