Sunday, July 11, 2010

SPR Selangor Should Stop Giving Excuses!

I had on 16 June issued a complaint to the press that the appointed assistant registrars to carry out voter registration exercises by the party are facing a lot of difficulties in obtaining the official voter registration forms from the Selangor EC office.

The matter came to a head in early June where some of our assistant registrars had to leave the EC office empty-handed, due to the lack of forms. Even when they were able to obtain forms, there were limited to a 50 to a maximum of 100 forms, which becomes a major hassle for some of our active registrars who may register more than 200-300 new voters a week.

They were informed by the SPR officials that there was a “shortage” of forms as they have allocated only 1,000 forms for all political parties for the month of June. We had found this to be extremely unreasonable, as our counterparts in many of the other states do not face any of these problems.

Last week, Bernama reported that the Selangor election director Dzulkifli Ab Rahman said from January to June this year, 11,150 voter registration forms had been given to the DAP.

"However, the DAP has only returned 8,733 forms (78.3 per cent) which means 2,417 forms (21.7 per cent) are still with the party," he said in a statement today. “The statistics clearly show that there was no shortage in form distribution to the DAP for the first six months of the year,” he added.

The statistics is highly misleading because even if accurate:

  1. We have a total of 22 assistant registrars in Selangor, and 2,417 forms averages to less than 110 forms per registrar. It is more than reasonable to expect these registrars to have blank forms in hand at any point of time to conduct voter registration programmes, or possess completed forms which have yet to be submitted to EC.
  2. The Selangor Election Director fails to take into consideration spoilt forms as there is going to be a significant percentage of forms which were completed wrongly and hence will not be returned to the EC.
  3. Most critically, he has failed to consider the fact that most of our registrars would conduct stringent checks on each completed form to ensure that they were really “new voters” and not voters who are already registered. This has ensured that submissions by the DAP assistant registrars has the lowest reject rates among all political parties at only 8%. Forms which were completed during a registration campaign, but was subsequently found to have been filled by an already registered voter would also not be returned to the EC.

Therefore based on the above reasons, the Selangor Election Director's argument that DAP has abundant forms in its possession is completely inaccurate.

Dzulkifli has however failed to answer additional questions which were posed to the Selangor EC earlier.

  1. Why was it that some of our assistant registrars were not given new forms earlier in June, especially before we made our complaint public? Why must the EC restrict the number of forms which can be given to the assistant registrars at any one time to not more than 100, even if a major campaign is being organised by the party to register new voters? Why should these forms be restricted when there is no room for abuse, and that they are to be given free in the first place?
  2. Why is it that despite having submitted names to replace some of our inactive assistant registrars since the end of 2009, they have still not been replaced in order to ensure that there are more active assistant registrars to register more than 780,000 yet-to-be registered voters in Selangor?
  3. Why is it that despite having indicated to use in January this year that the Selangor SPR will appoint more political party assistant registrars, up to 2 for every state constituency, there has been no further development over the past 6 months?

The Selangor EC should stop giving excuses on its attempt to create inconveniences for assistant registrars from political parties from Pakatan Rakyat. Instead, its officers should go all out to assist our registrars to ensure that as many Malaysians as possible, regardless of race, creed or political affiliation gets registered to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

The efforts of political parties to register voters given the EC and the Government's refusal to automatically register voters must instead be appreciated and given all the necessary encouragement as we are doing the work on behalf of the Election Commission.
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