Wednesday 28 March 2012

Polls reform PSC needs to iron out 5 more issues

After holding an unprecedented series of public hearings nationwide and panel meetings over the past six months, the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reforms has agreed on 16 key issues.

The nine-member panel led by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Maximus Ongkili however has yet to come to a consensus on five other remaining issues, said a source familiar with the workings of the PSC.
The committee is in the final phase of ironing out details of its report, and plans to present its final report to Parliament on Monday, the last day of its deadline.
Some of the crucial pending matters are:
  • political campaign funding
  • appropriate length of campaign period
  • candidates withdrawing after nomination day
  • voting for those residing overseas
  • postal votes for media personnel
According to the source, the committee has agreed in principle to a mechanism to allow Malaysians living overseas to vote, provided that they return home every five years.

NONE"The committee is in the process of fine-tuning the mechanism," said the source.

The PSC is also having difficulty with deciding an appropriate duration for the election campaign.

"Some members are for 21 days, while the majority prefer limiting it to 10 days," the source said.

Public funds to finance candidates?

The committee has reached an agreement on establishing a mechanism to monitor political funding where contesting parties must declare their source of finance.

azlanHowever, on whether political parties should be funded by the state to ensure a level-playing field, sources said BN MPs on the committee are arguing for a ‘first past the post' mechanism.

Under this system, the candidate with the most votes is entitled to a significantly larger chunk of public funding.

It is understood that the Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers are for a ‘proportional representation' mechanism, where funds awarded fairly reflect the proportion of support gained by each competing party.

As for granting media personnel the right to register as postal voters - a move welcomed by the Election Commission (EC) - the panel members are of two minds.

"One side is agreeable to the move because some reporters have to be able to vote early, especially if they are posted at locations far away from their polling stations.

"Others argue that they don't trust in the postal voting system as it can be easily rigged."

Another issue that needs to be finalised is disallowing a candidate to withdraw his or her nomination as an election candidate.

Currently, nominees may withdraw their candidacy during the 48-hour cooling-off period and are entitled to have their hefty deposits returned.

Among others, the 16 issues which have been agreed on include allowing competing parties to have  equal access to the media.
TNONEhe source said the committee will propose that the EC provides a media guideline to the relevant ministry.

The source added that the members are also keen on forming a special committee to oversee ‘cleaning up' of the electoral rolls.

Last week, Pakatan representatives had distributed copies of Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems papers which revealed where defects in the electoral database.

It said there are 79,098 voters registered in 354 addresses, with at least 100 voters in each address, leading to the call for the special monitoring committee to be formed.

The EC has identified 40,025 names which are labelled as "doubtful" but said it is powerless to remove them.

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