ALMOST all voters would accept the advice of the Election Commission (EC) that it’s never too late to register to vote.
Nevertheless, why is this EC advice so vital? It is because about 3.8 million Malaysians have not registered to vote as at September last year. Most of them would be young Malaysians above or around the age of 21. What a shame this is and what an indictment against our youth who will be our future leaders! It’s sad and perplexing!
But why have the largely young eligible voters not exercised their responsibility and duty to register to vote?
Is it indifference? Do they see no difference between government and the opposition policies? Do they see no difference between the quality, performance and commitment to serve sincerely and honestly among all politicians regardless of political parties? Then why not register to vote for the individual GE14 candidates and not the political parties?
To be fair, not all political leaders are unworthy of our votes. There are many political leaders who are just, fair and dedicated to serving their voters. Of course, there are many “dirty politicians” in Malaysia as in many other parts of the world. But that does not mean we should abdicate our sacred responsibility to register to vote and to actually spoil our votes on polling day!
Both these practices can severely damage the election process and democracy itself!
That is why “undi-rosak” or spoiling the votes at the ballot box is so destructive and disruptive to the whole election exercise. Those who indulge in supporting and, worse, participating in spoiling votes will do all patriotic Malaysian voters a great disservice.
Vote spoilers can actually be seen as sabotaging the electoral system. This is most unfair to the rest of us.
So we appeal to mostly the youth who have not registered as voters or who plan to undi rosak to support and strengthen the electoral process and to enhance our democracy. Please don’t let us down! Please rush to the nearest post office or EC office to register to vote. Also, please desist from spoiling your vote!
The EC also has to do more to live up to its duty to the Government and the rakyat. It must go all out to win over those who have not registered to vote or who plan to spoil their votes.
To do this, the EC could:
1. Employ many more registrars and assistant registrars of voters;
2. Step up its promotion campaign to register voters and to discourage vote spoilers;
3. Educate the non registered but eligible voters to fulfil their responsibility as citizens;
4. EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim should set key productivity indicators (KPIs) especially during these last few months before the general election. The EC should take it as a challenge to achieve higher voter targets and less vote spoiling;
5. The chairman should also ensure that the independence of the EC is maintained or even enhanced in order to protect the integrity of his own post, his officers and the EC itself. Public respect for the EC would then increase and more would register to vote and would do so at a faster pace; and
6. Gerrymandering of constituencies and misappropriation of votes should be countered to ensure a free and fair GE14. Then there would be more trust in our election system and greater confidence and faith in our democracy.
Although GE14 is so near, it’s sad that about 3.8 million Malaysians have yet to register as voters. Worse still, there are those, especially young people, who plan to boycott the ballot box and even spoil their votes.
As the EC advises, it’s never too late to register to vote. So our appeal particularly to Malaysian youths is for you to register to vote as soon as possible.
And please don’t boycott the elections or spoil your sacred vote.
You need to vote to protect and enhance your own future and the future of our beloved country and all our people.
So please don’t let us all down! Please show us your patriotism and lead the way forward for a better Malaysia!
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Asli Center of Public Policy Studies