It’s not right or wrong but rights and lack thereof
BASED on the issues raised, Suhakam makes the following observations and recommendations for free and fair elections:
RIGHT TO VOTE
The will of the people forms the basis of the government’s authority. Hence, citizens have the right to select their representatives. For them to make an informed choice, they should have the right of access to information, which includes the right to hear the manifesto of all parties and pledges of candidates. Access to information also necessitates the right of assembly.
-Right of assembly
All political parties should be allowed to hold rallies and ceramah without having to apply for permits during the campaign period, with the proviso that the assembly is peaceful and speech is not used to slander, create disharmony, incite hatred and compromise national security. The organisers must be made well aware that they are fully accountable for public safety and are liable to face charges in court if the gathering turns unruly.
The force should not act on mere suspicion, speculation, fear or imagination. There must be clear evidence of public disorder or incitement to create violence. Powers provided by restrictive laws, such as the Sedition Act, Internal Security Act, Official Secrets Act and Police Act should be exercised judiciously and a balance must be struck between security concerns and civil rights and freedom.
-Access to media
All parties should have equal access to media in terms of broadcast time and print space, as well as in timing and placement of their information. In short, access to media should be non-discriminatory. The media should be allowed to cover the campaign freely, without interference or unreasonable restriction by the authorities.
Persons with disabilities and indigenous people have the right to vote. Hence, it is recommended that polling stations be made accessible to indigenous people in remote areas, polling stations to be disabled-friendly and ballot papers to be provided in Braille for those who are visually impaired.
TRUE REFLECTION OF VOTERS’ CHOICE
The candidates elected should be an accurate reflection of the people’s choice. In this respect, several matters require attention.
The Election Commission should devise measures to ensure that those on the electoral rolls are genuine voters. The measures it has taken thus far are good but still inadequate in removing ‘phantom voters’.
The government should consider amending laws to empower the EC to check on the validation of one’s claimed residence. There should be better co-ordination between the National Registration Department and the EC so that the names of deceased electors are removed from the electoral rolls as soon as the death certificate is issued.
- Automatic registration
All eligible voters should be automatically registered upon attaining the age of 21.
- Delineation of constituencies
Any delineation exercise designed to dilute or increase the votes of a particular candidate or party is unacceptable in terms of the international norm of equality of suffrage. In this respect, Suhakam urges that the principle of democracy enunciated in the Federal Constitution and Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be respected and given due consideration in delineating constituencies. The use of an ethnic form of gerrymandering to control electoral outcomes should be discontinued.
- Longer campaign period
The campaign period for a general election should be longer than it has been in recent years, so that all views are equally represented and voters are able to hear the views of all parties. A reference point can be found in the 1959, 1964 and 1969 elections.
EQUALITY DURING ELECTIONS
Equality should be exercised to ensure fair elections.
Administration of such laws should be implemented and enforced non-selectively to ensure that every candidate has an equal chance of winning.
- Caretaker government
It is recommended that when the parliament is dissolved, a caretaker government should take charge to ensure impartiality. This is also necessary to deter the use of public facilities and funds for campaigning.
INDEPENDENT AND IMPARTIAL EC
The EC should be made directly accountable to the Parliament rather than to the executive branch to secure its independence.
The court should be given greater leeway to adjudicate electoral disputes.
RESPONSIBLE CONDUCT OF CANDIDATES
At all rallies and during any campaign activities, candidates should refrain from slander and false allegations, as well as misuse of freedom of speech to incite hatred and communal and religious tensions.
Those who resort to undemocratic means to win elections and those who violate the law should be held accountable in timely manner.
‘Undemocratic means’ include vote-buying through outright gifts (cash, grants to private schools, allowances ostensibly to cover expenses of party supporters and as compensation in lieu of wages) and inducements such as expediting the administrative process (e.g. in issuing ownership titles to house buyers).
Malaysians have the right to elect their representatives to form the government. To ensure that the true will of the people is reflected, elections have to be free and fair.
The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of the government. Based on this, citizens should exercise their right to vote in serious manner, while candidates and their parties should be responsible in their actions.
government do not listen 2 SUHAKAM.
it was created to show dat msia is concern about human’s right.
after all, all members of d panel is appointed by the government