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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Voting should be an automatic right

IT was reported recently that nearly 4.4 million eligible voters in Malaysia had yet to register with the Election Commission (EC). This is a disturbing trend for a nation that is moving fast towards a developed status but suffers from low awareness among the public on their voting rights.

With this alarming number of non-voting community, one wonders if indeed the majority made their voice counted in electing their government.

Ignorance may best describe their inaction on a personal level but it is time that more effort is put by all relevant parties to push them to register and exercise their rights and not just lament by the sidelines when things are not in rhyme with their wishes.

Many are fast to react and criticise the various policies and laws implemented but the non-voters have themselves to blame for inaction in the first place.

As citizens, we are given the constitutional right to vote every five years. This opportunity must not be ignored.

However, it is baffling why voter registration cannot be “automated”? Why does the EC need to step up its efforts via roadshows and setting up of counters to encourage the registration of voters?

It is common knowledge that for one to vote, he or she must be 21 years old and must be a citizen of Malaysia. Isn’t it easier then to register any citizen who comes of age a voter by default?

Recently, it was announced by the Govern­ment that the MyKad will be made an all-purpose document used by agencies to enhance quality in delivering services to the rakyat.

The MyKad will also be used to control subsidy distribution of petrol beginning of May and also other subsidies in the near future. Then why do we need eligible voters to register personally at different locations in the country?

With advancement in information systems and far more efficient data management in place today, the EC can easily liaise with the NRD to update the voter list and, in fact, counter-check, in parallel, voters who have expired, or who have given up their citizenship.

This will also counter accusations of phantom voters and abuse of identification that seems to surface during any election.

In resonating the concepts of KPI and NKRA, all resources must be deployed for optimal outcomes. Manning counters and roadshows just to register voters are a sheer waste of public funds and taxpayers’ monies.

It is time the EC accepts voter registration via NRD database and concentrate more on educating them on their voting rights. As we have witnessed in the past, voter turnout has been rather poor even among the registered voters. The EC needs to make this as their KPI in the coming general election.

NARINDER PAL SINGH,
Shah Alam, Selangor.

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