Wednesday, April 4, 2012

PSC report on electoral reforms passed in Parliament

PSC report

Parliamentary Select Committee chairman, Datuk Seri Dr. Maximus Ongkili (right) dan Hulu Selangor member of parliament, P. Kamalanathan with the PSC report that was passed in Parliament today. -- Pix by Abdullah Yusof

The decision was made by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia after several government and opposition MPs engaged in a war of words pertaining his decision to reject a motion to get a minority report be inserted in the final report.

The war of words also caused three opposition MPs - Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak), R.Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) and Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Pas-Kuala Selangor) - to be ordered to leave the Dewan.

"Since the opposition MPs are not keen to debate the motion, I now propose that a decision is made for the motion on the report tabled by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister (Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili) as the chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reforms," Pandikar Amin said.

Despite the ongoing commotion and the fact that the motion received a loud shout of "agree" from backbenchers, the Speaker still offered the opposition MPs a chance to decide on the motion through block voting.

However, the opposition MPs refused to do so and hence, forced the Speaker to pass the motion according to the voice of the majority without debate.

"If you want block voting, speak now. If not, the decision is clear, the motion is passed," he said.
Earlier, Ongkili, when tabling the 79-page report, which also contained 22 recommendations to improve the election process, said:

"Matters brought to the attention of the Dewan are matters that have been identified as the most important aspects implementable by the Election Commission (EC) and other relevant agencies over the short and long term.

"During our six-month operation, over 200 suggestions and ideas on electoral reforms were submitted by members of the public for our consideration," he said when tabling the report at the Dewan Rakyat today.

Ongkili said the report was prepared based on public opinion during public hearings, feedback from PSC members, conclusions provided by sub-committees and PSC members' observation during their working visits to the United Kingdom, Germany and Denmark.

Ongkili said the committee, comprising nine members, backbenchers and opposition MPs, had also accepted 18 of the recommendations, while the other four were accepted through block voting.

The accepted recommendations are concerning matters to facilitate Malaysians abroad to cast their vote either at Malaysian embassies or through postal voting; voters living outside their constituencies; date for dissolution of Parliament; caretaker government; enforcement of existing regulations pertaining to the offence of providing false information during registration; free and fair media access.

Continuous process of cleaning up the electoral roll; review of the electoral roll for addresses with many registered voters; objections to the electoral roll that have been verified through complaints or feedback from political parties, non-governmental organisations and the like; use of an address other than the residence address on the identity card as the registration address to determine electoral constituency.

The committee had also agreed to suggestions on efforts to empower the role of EC; structuring and empowerment of the EC; separation of EC's main functions; distribution of Parliamentary seats for Sabah and Sarawak; a more balanced re-delineation of electoral boundaries; allocations for political parties and the election system.

The four recommendations accepted through block voting are in allowing postal voting for EC and media personnel; allowing pre-registration of Malaysian citizens as voters at the age of 20; extending the election campaign period; and study on automatic registration of voters. - BERNAMA

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