The parliamentary debate on the Election Offences Amendment Bill 2002 which
started yesterday is both premature and irrelevant in being unable to address
the real electoral abuses which make a mockery of a free, fair and clean
elections in Malaysia.
The Election Offences Amendment Bill 2002, which was first presented to
Parliament in March, was drafted solely without consultation with the opposition
parties and was conceived with the primary objective to make life as difficult
as possible for the Opposition but as
comfortable as possible for the Barisan Nasional.
This was why the amendment bill failed completely to address the substantive
electoral abuses which afflict the electoral system in the past few decades, in
particular the 3M abuses of the politics of money, media manipulation and
government machinery exploitation.
The Election Commission not only closed its eyes to the grave
3M electoral abuses, it tried to give a certain legitimacy to the
politics of money by its four-fold increase of the maximum election expenditure
permissible for a parliamentary candidate from RM50,000 to RM200,000 and more
than three-fold increase for a state assembly candidate from RM30,000 to
Why should the Election Commission give its blessings
to the politics of money by such four-fold increase for election
expenditures for parliamentary candidates, when a ceiling of RM100,000 for
parliamentary candidates and RM50,000 for state assembly candidates would be
more appropriate and desirable in
the public interest to send a clear message that elections is not a contest of
money but a competition for public support in terms of policies and choice of
It is a great blemish of the
election offences amendment bill that there is no attempt to place a limit on
the election expenditures which a political party or coalition is allowed to
spend during a general election, as is the case with other countries like the
It is an open secret that the election expenditures of the Barisan Nasional
candidates in a general election easily total hundreds of millions of ringgit,
which are different and separate from the expenditures of the Barisan Nasional
as a political coalition in a general election, which would be in the region of
billions of ringgit!
Why can’t the Election Commission propose in the Election Offences
Amendment Bill 2002 that a political party or coalition is not permitted by law
to spend more than RM10 million nation-wide in any general election – over and
above the election expenditures of their candidates, and that leaders of
political parties or political coalition are liable to prosecution and
disqualification as elected representatives if found guilty of such election
But what makes the current parliamentary debate most unreal and
irrelevant is the failure of the bill to address the “hottest”
election issue – the scandal of the “phantom voters” which, as the
Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman had recently
admitted, had been long-standing for the past two decades.
For the past 20 years, the Election Commission was completely unmoved
by the DAP complaints and protests about the “phantom voters” planted
by the Barisan Nasional component parties on the electoral roll, which among
other things led to the loss of Dr. Chen Man Hin to Datuk Lee San Choon by 845
votes in the Seremban constituency
in the 1982 general election and the loss of the late P. Patto to Datuk Seri
Samy Vellu by 1,763 votes in Sungei
Siput in the 1990 general election, but when the Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri
Dr. Mahathir Mohamad complained about PAS “phantom voters” in the recent
Pendang and Anak Bukit by-elections, the Election Commission swung into
This does not enhance the reputation and credibility of the Election
Commission as an independent, non-partisan and impartial body discharging its
constitutional mandate to conduct free, fair and clean elections without fear or
favour to any political party or grouping – fully committed to the eradication
of all phantom voters, whether Barisan Nasional or opposition.
It is most ludicrous for the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department,
Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim, to present to
Parliament yesterday 28 amendments
to the Election Offences Act 1954 which
failed to address the scandal of “phantom voters” – whether “illegal
immigrant”, “imported” or “the dead”.
After the second reading debate on the Election Offences Amendment Bill 2002,
the Bill should be referred to a
parliamentary select committee to invite public views as its passage at this
stage is premature and irrelevant in being unable to address the grave electoral
abuses which make a mockery of a free, fair and clean elections in Malaysia.
Rais can chair the parliamentary select committee on the Election Offences
Amendment Bill 2002, which should comprise representatives from all political
parties, and which should have as its terms of reference the report back to
Parliament of a more satisfactory, relevant and comprehensive
amendment bill before the end of the current budget meeting on 12th
November which deals effectively with
the grave 3M electoral abuses as well as the “phantom voters” scandal.
The amended Election Offences
Amendment Bill 2002 which the Parliamentary Select Committee should report back
to Parliament should make it an election offence for anyone to be registered as
a “phantom voter” i.e. in a constituency where he or she has no residential
or work connections, accompanied by a mass clean-up of the electoral roll of all
“phantom voters”, whether illegal immigrant, imported or the dead.
A six-month amnesty period should be given to all “imported phantom voters” for them to be properly registered in a constituency where he or she has residential or work connections to claim the right to be a voter, before anyone is prosecuted for committing the election offence of registering illegally as a “phantom voter”.