Linking Voting Rights to Tax Status is Absurd

The Election Commission Should Do Its Job and Stop Coming up with Excuses and Delay Tactics to Prevent Overseas Malaysians from Voting by Post

The Election Commission (EC) chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, is clearly desperate to prevent as many Malaysians overseas as possible from voting, despite his promise in August 2011 to allow all Malaysians to vote by post, and contrary to the recommendation of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform, which was endorsed by the Dewan Rakyat in December 2011, that all Malaysian citizens overseas should be allowed to vote by post.

First, the EC Chairman proposed that only Malaysians who returned to Malaysia every few years should be allowed to vote. MyOverseasVote pointed out at the time that the EC, who cannot even remove dead voters efficiently from the electoral roll, would have no way of monitoring how often overseas Malaysians return to Malaysia.

Now the EC Chairman has proposed that only Malaysians overseas who pay Malaysian tax should be allowed to vote. Clearly, Malaysians who work overseas do not pay Malaysian income tax. But so do 90% of the Malaysian workforce. Only 1 million Malaysians pay income tax, out of a registered electorate of 11 million. Is the EC Chairman proposing to disenfranchise the 10 million registered voters who do not pay any income tax?

The EC Chairman should be aware that voting rights is tied to citizenship and not to the paying of tax. Foreigners living in Malaysia who pay Malaysian taxes are not entitled to vote because they are not Malaysian citizens. It is noteworthy that at the same press conference where he said that only Malaysian taxpayers should be allowed to vote in Federal and State elections, he refused the Penang State Government’s request for the EC to allow Penang ratepayers to vote in local government elections.

It is hard to avoid feeling that the EC is only good at coming up with excuses and delay tactics to justify its inaction and its failure to manage and maintain a clean and fair election process. Perhaps the EC Chairman feels that his job would be easier if nobody had the right to vote and no elections were held at all. Malaysians must ask, is the EC bending to political pressure from the Federal Government to stop overseas Malaysians from voting in the 13th General Election, which is expected within the next year?

The EC is an administrative body whose job is to organise and run elections in accordance with the Constitution and the law. It has no right and no business to tell Malaysian citizens that they are not Malaysian enough to  vote.

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3 Responses to Linking Voting Rights to Tax Status is Absurd

  1. Noel says:

    May I please have the link to the full text of your Constitution and to any law that specifically addresses/grants/regulates Malaysian overseas residents/workers’ right to vote. Thanks.

  2. Noel says:

    Got the link.

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