DAP calls for the withdrawal of the Election Amendment Bill to empower the quadrupling of election deposits as it will be bad law and worse parliamentary precedent


Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Sunday):  DAP calls for the withdrawal of the Election Amendment Bill to empower the quadrupling of election deposits from the present RM5,000 to RM20,000 as it will be bad law and worse parliamentary precedent. 

The Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim has said that  the new amount on the election deposit will not be implemented with immediate effect as the RM20,000 is the ceiling or maximum amount that can be imposed anytime in the future without  the government having to amend the election laws every time it wished to raise the deposit.  

This is a most unacceptable argument, making complete nonsense of the important  principle of parliamentary accountability, scrutiny and oversight, as going by Raisí logic, Parliament might as well give a blank cheque to allow the government to raise election deposits to any level it wants in the future, whether it be RM100,000 or RM200,000 without having to refer back to Parliament. 

By the same Rais logic, it is not necessary for Parliament to waste public funds to meet to discuss legislation, but to give a blank cheque to the Cabinet to enact whatever  laws it deems fit - as the parliamentary stage of legislation-making has become a purely  mechanical and rubber-stamping process which does not allow for constructive participation, input or amendment by Members of Parliament in all three readings of a bill in the Dewan Rakyat. 

The Election Amendment Bill to empower the quadrupling of the  election deposit to RM20,000 is bad law and worse parliamentary precedent  - especially as the present RM5,000 election deposit, excluding Singapore,  is already the highest in the Commonwealth, being twice the election deposit for the United Kingdom, ten times higher for Australian and Canadian Parliamentary candidates and more than 30 times higher  for the New Zealand parliamentary election deposit.  

There can be no justification whatsoever for the proposal to increase the RM5,000 election deposit all the way to RM20,000  when the urgent task is to halve the election deposit to check the unhealthy trend of  elections in Malaysia degenerating  into a money game as is already evident in the first day of the  Ketari by-election in Pahang. Last night, Gerakan organised over 200 tables of dinner in two areas for voters in Ketari, which by themselves would have broken the election law limiting election expenditures for each state assembly candidate to  RM30,000 on pain of commiting an election offence.

(24/3/2002)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman