The Chairman of the Election Commission (EC), Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, has given the clearest indication yet that the EC has no intention to implement overseas voting for Malaysians before the 13th General Elections, in contempt of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform (PSC), which were endorsed by the Dewan Rakyat:
- On 25 August 2011, more than a year ago, Abdul Aziz announced that all Malaysians living overseas would be able to vote by post.
- On 1 December 2011, the PSC recommended in its interim report that all Malaysians living overseas should be entitled to vote by post. This was accepted by the Dewan Rakyat.
- On 3 April 2012, the PSC confirmed its recommendation in its final report and gave the EC a three-month deadline to make the necessary arrangements with Government departments to implement its recommendation. This was also accepted by the Dewan Rakyat.
- On 11 July 2012, having missed the PSC’s deadline of 3 July 2012, Abdul Aziz told Malaysians that “the system [of overseas postal voting] can be implemented by September if we have to amend the law, but it could be earlier than that (if legal amendments are not needed)” (Malaysian Insider).
- On 14 September 2012, two months later and less than two weeks before the start of the Dewan Rakyat’s September sitting, Abdul Aziz has now said that the Attorney-General’s Chambers was “still studying whether an amendment to the Election Act was needed” before overseas postal voting for Malaysians can be implemented (Bernama/Malaysiakini).
The EC is the body entrusted by the Federal Constitution with the preparation and revision of electoral rolls and the conduct of elections to the Dewan Rakyat and the State Legislative Assemblies. The EC has its own legal staff and a RM700 million budget and is given wide rule-making powers both by Article 113(5) and by the Elections Act 1958.
Sections 15 & 16 of the Act gives the EC the power to “make regulations for the registration of electors”, “to make regulations for the conduct of elections” and “for all matters incidental thereto”. These Regulations can made by the EC with the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and then laid before the Dewan Rakyat, which can reject them. Sub-section 16(n) of the Act specifically gives the EC the power to make regulations to “prescribe the facilities to be provided for voting by post and the persons entitled to vote by post”.
It is inconceivable that the EC, with its own legal staff, does not know its own rule-making powers. The EC has already made the Elections (Postal Voting) Regulations 2003 which set out the present categories of eligible postal voters. Furthermore, regulation 3(f) of the Regulations specifically allows the EC to gazette new categories of postal voters without obtaining the approval of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Dewan Rakyat. The EC has quietly used this to gazette spouses of police officers in the Pasukan Gerakan Am, who were not previously eligible to be absent/postal voters, as postal voters.
In order to deflect attention from their thirteen months of deliberate inaction, Abdul Aziz and his deputy Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, have repeatedly expressed their disappointment at the small numbers of Malaysians overseas who have registered to vote overseas. This is despite the fact that it is currently impossible for Malaysians who are not students or government servants to register as overseas voters.
Malaysians have had enough of the deceit and inaction shown by the EC Chairman and his Deputy. It is clear that their aim all along has been to deceive overseas Malaysians with promises while having absolutely no intention to implement overseas postal voting before the 13th General Election. On behalf of 1 million overseas Malaysians, MyOverseasVote calls for their immediate resignation and for His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to appoint a new Chairman and Deputy who can command the confidence of the Malaysian public.
London, 19th Sept 2012