Following the announcement by the Election Commission (EC) that the polling day for the Melaka State Election will be held this 20 November 2021, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kota Melaka Khoo Poay Tiong has urged the EC to take necessary measures in ensuring the election will be safe and fair. In a statement today, Khoo lamented the situation that the state of Melaka and its people have found themselves in due to the political games being played by four state assemblypersons from UMNO and Bersatu.
The Kota Melaka MP asserted,
“Various parties have expressed concerns over having the state election, especially when the country is just beginning to recover from the Covid-19 outbreak. Yet, we have little choice.”
“The people of Melaka have been forced into this situation because of the political games by the four state assemblypersons who withdrew their support.”
Furthermore, Khoo also reiterated several issues that he has consistently brought up in Parliament regarding electoral reform but seems to have fallen to deaf ears by both the EC and the Federal Government who have done very little to reform our electoral process. These matters include:
- The status of the report by the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) headed by Azmin Ali which has done nothing on the issue.
- A proposed summoning of EC by the Parliamentary Special Committee on the Agencies under the Prime Ministers Department to enquire on their preparedness to hold elections during the Covid-19 pandemic. This too failed to take place.
As the EC plays a crucial role in ensuring a safe, fair and clean election, the Kota Melaka MP calls upon the commission to urgently focus their resources on 5 issues regarding the Melaka State Election below:
1. Undi18 and Automatic Voter Registration (AVR)
Despite the necessary constitutional amendment have already been passed for more than 2 years, both Undi18 and AVR have yet to be implemented. In fact, 30% of the current electorate or a whopping 151,961 eligible voters will lose their constitutional right to vote in the state election this 20 November!
The EC should be held accountable for this failure and urgently take immediate action to implement both Undi18 and AVR for Melaka before the election.
2. Proper SOPs
The EC must ensure that the entire election process is safe and in line with public health protocols. Based on the experience in Sabah, the SOPs were published but not enforced. There were crowds during campaigning. In some polling stations, there was no proper physical distancing.
The EC must review existing polling stations to ensure they are still suitable for use. In the last general election, several polling stations, especially those in urban areas, were packed with voters lining up for their turn.
The EC should create new polling stations of voting streams to better manage the crowd during the election. Each voting stream in the polling stations must be properly ventilated to reduce the risk of airborne transmission
Candidates and political parties will need to change the manner of campaigning. Public rallies (ceramah) with large crowds are unlikely, given the ongoing concerns over Covid-19.
To facilitate new forms of campaigning, the EC and government must ensure equal access to our national television and radio stations for all parties.
4. Postal voting
The EC has announced that postal voting is now allowed for Malaysians who are residing overseas. The previous restriction for those in southern Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and Kalimantan, Indonesia has been removed. This decision is welcomed as it will enable more voters to vote.
However, the EC must ensure that the postal ballots are delivered and returned in time. In the past, there have been incidents where voters only received their postal ballots after the elections. There must be adequate measures to ensure the postal voting process is not manipulated.
The proposed anti-party hopping legislation is still not in place. Party-hopping may still happen after the Melaka state election, especially if the result is close. If this were to happen, we will be back to square one.
As an interim measure, all candidates should voluntarily sign a pledge, in the form of a statutory declaration, that they will not jump from the party which they represented during the election.
The EC must implement the above as soon as possible so that the Melaka State Election would not repeat the same mistakes that happened during last year’s Sabah State Election and so that eligible voters would not lose their constitutional right just because the EC failed to perform their own job. – The Rocket.