Spoiling votes part and parcel of democratic process, says lawyer

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 24 Jan 2018

PETALING JAYA: Spoiling the vote or boycotting elections are “part and parcel” of the democratic process, said constitutional lawyer Syahredzan Johan.

He said that unlike in Australia where voting is mandatory and a punishment sanctioned, there is no law requiring people to vote in Malaysia, even if they are registered voters.

“In Malaysia, there is no such law. I don’t see anything wrong with such an action,” he said in an interview.

Social activist Hafidz Baharom agreed with Syahredzan that boycotting the elections is part of the democratic process.

“In some other countries, there is the ‘none of the above’ option in the ballot paper. But we don’t have that here,” he said.

Hafidz added that leaders should not lash out at Malaysians for choosing not to vote as youths had already expressed their hope for change long before Pakatan Hara­pan decided to nominate Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as their prime minister candidate.

“I mentioned much earlier that we should have selected a younger prime minister candidate because youths are looking at the world and noticing that the world has younger leaders.

“Now, suddenly the Opposition comes up with a 92-year-old candidate who has had 30 years to fix the country, but he did not do it,” he said.

“So, when the youth are saying that we are supporting the #undirosak movement, now you (Opposition) are telling us that this should not be done.

“We have been telling you (Opposition) for the past three months that this was going to happen,” he added.

Hafidz also disagreed with Dr Mahathir’s remark that those who chose not to vote were “shallow-minded people”.

“No, we are very rational people and we have thought deeply about this,” he pointed out, adding that most of the supporters of the movement were former supporters of Pakatan.

One of the propagators of the campaign, social activist Maryam Lee, said there had been a misconception about spoiling a vote.

She said the anger generated by the #undirosak campaign should be channelled towards those who did not vote since they made up the majority.

“You’re supposed to put more effort and energy towards those who do not vote.

“Actually, the fate of the future is not in the hands of those who spoil votes,” she said.

Maryam also said the movement had actually been going on for years, and that it only intensified when Dr Mahathir was named as Pakatan’s prime minister in-waiting recently.

As of March last year, 3.77 million eligible voters have yet to register with the Election Commission.

Out of that total, two-thirds are youths aged between 21 and 30.

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