Election Amendment Bill should halve  the election deposit instead of quadrupling it to RM20,000 as the present RM5,000 deposit is already the highest in the Commonwealth


Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Saturday):  The Election Amendment Bill before Parliament should halve  the election deposit instead of quadrupling it to RM20,000 as the present RM5,000 deposit for parliamentary candidates is already the highest in the Commonwealth. 

The deposit for a Parliamentary candidate in the United Kingdom  was 150 pound sterling until 1985, when the level of deposit was increased to 500 pound sterling which is equivalent to about RM2,700 - a far cry from the RM5,000 deposit for a parliamentary candidate and RM3,000 for a State Assembly candidate in Malaysia. 

The RM5,000 deposit in Malaysia is also higher than other Commonwealth countries as shown by the following comparisons: 

Australia  (Lower House)     AU $250 or   RM500

Australia  (Upper House)     AU $500 or   RM1,000

Britain                                           500 or   RM2,700

Canada-                                CA $200 or   RM480

India                                              R500 or   RM40

Ireland                                       IE100  or   RM420

New Zealand                          NZ $100 or   RM160

 

In any meaningful parliamentary democracy,  citizens should be encouraged  to put themselves forward as candidates for election to public office and the system of financial deposits is not meant to deter serious candidatures but  intended to ensure that all candidates who put themselves forward do so in a serious spirit and not as a joke.  

For this reason, an election deposit should not be too prohibitive as to distort the election process into a money game favouring the rich and moneyed people  while discouraging  the serious and  idealistic but not so financially strong  candidates and political parties who wish to give the voters a choice of national policies and directions. 

In asking for legislative power to quadruple election deposits to RM20,000 when the present RM5,000 deposit is already the highest in the Commonwealth countries, higher than advanced countries like the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the Election Commission will only be seen to have become a money-grubbing institution deviating from its constitutional mandate to ensure a level playing field in the electoral process without which there can be no free, fair and clean elections. 

For this reason, the proposal  in the new Election Amendment Bill to quadruple the election deposit should be dropped and the parent Act amended to at least halve the present RM5,000 election deposit so that it does not impose unfair burdens and disadvantages  on serious candidates on grounds of finance  and discharge Malaysia from the  dubious distinction of having the highest election deposit in the Commonwealth. 

(23/3/2002)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman