Abdullah Ghani Salleh should resign as Election Commission Chairman and give way to a new Chairman who can fulfil Parliament’s mandate to ensure Malaysians over the age of 18 can vote in the next general election
The Election Commission announcement yesterday that Malaysians between 18 – 21 years will likely not be able to vote in the next general election is a fundamental breach of Parliament’s mandate which unanimously amended the Constitution in July 2019 to allow Malaysians above 18 years to vote, as well to allow for automatic voter registration.
These constitutional amendments were gazetted on Sept. 10, 2019.
It is not only a fundamental violation of Parliament’s mandate to lower the voting age to 18 years old, but it is an abysmal example of Election Commission’s incompetence and ineptitude that it could not ensure that Malaysians who have reached 18 years of age could cast their vote in the next general election after it had been passed by Parliament for more than two years
This is a fundamental breach of Pakatan Harapan’s pledge as there could be no doubt that if not for the Sheraton Move which ushered in a “backdoor” government at the end of February 2020, Malaysians who have reached 18 years would be able to cast their vote in the 15th general election.
The decision of the Election Commission to postpone the implementation of Undi18, including automatic voter registration to Sept. 1 next year, is completely unacceptable and the Election Commission Chairman would be guilty of a dismissal offence if Parliament had not been suspended.
Nonetheless, Abdul Ghani Salleh should have the integrity and honour to resign as Chairman of Election Commission since he cannot comply with Parliament’s commitment to lower the age of voting to 18 years old in the next general election.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law), Takiyuddin Hassan had told Parliament in November last year that the implementation of the 18-year-old voting age and automatic voter registration was expected to commence at the latest by July this year.
He said that the Election Commission (EC) was working with the National Registration Department (NRD) through both parties’ task force committee to make preparations to implement automatic voter registration and other related matters.
All preparations will be completed within 18 to 24 months from the date of approval by the Senate on July 25, 2019.
Why then the sudden announcement by the Election Commission to postpone the implementation of Undi18, including automatic voter registration to Sept 1, next year.
I had said in July 2019 that the unanimous constitutional amendment to lower the voting age to 18 years was a “historic” occasion and “a wish come true” for me 48 years after my first raising the issue in Parliament on Human Rights Day in 1971 – Dec. 10, 1971.
Now we have a 50-year betrayal when the Election Commission postponed the implementation of the lowering of voting age to 18 and automatic voters’ registration to September next year, making Malaysians above 18 years unable to cast their vote in the next general election.
I said yesterday that Malaysia had become almost a kakistocracy when the Cabinet was not bothered about the country’s performance in the Covid-19 pandemic or unconcerned about corruption and lack of professionalism in the police force.
There has recently been a deluge of developments which showed that Malaysia is on a trajectory towards a kakistocratic state such as:
- Suspension of Parliament and a Cabinet which is prepared to disregard the clear advice of the Yang di Pertuan Agong that Parliament can convene during the Emergency proclaimed on January 11;
- The harsh, disproportionate, unconscionable and unjust compound fine of RM10,000 for individuals and RM50,000 for companies for breach of the movement control order and breach of Covid-19 SOPs;
- The “Dua Darjat” disease during the Covid-19 pandemic;
- The collapse of public trust and confidence in the governance of the country;
- Failure to inform the former Cabinet of a terrorist threat against senior government officials including the then Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, finance minister Lim Guan Eng, religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusuf Rawa and attorney-general Tommy Thomas before the Sheraton Move in January 2020;
- The International Labour Organisation (ILO) report that Putrajaya had once again failed to respond to its concerns, the latest being the ILO’s 2021 Report on the Application of International Labour Standards released on Feb. 15 and which classified Malaysia as one of the countries that had committed a “serious failure to submit” a response to its requests – four so far;
- Lack of transparency in the multi-billion ringgit Goldman Sachs settlement to dispel claims that Putrajaya had paid hefty legal fees so that they could be kicked back to Bersatu;
- Refusal to register new political parties, PEJUANG and MUDA.
And now, the decision to violate the Parliamentary mandate to allow Malaysians above 18 years age to vote in the next general election.
Can Malaysians take a united stand against kakistocracy as they have taken a united stand against kleptocracy?