IT is never too late to register to vote, and the Election Commission’s (EC) advice is most timely, especially with the 14th General Election (GE14) impending.
Perhaps, the EC should have done this earlier. Nevertheless, why is this advice so vital?
Because, unfortunately, about 3.8 million Malaysians had not registered to vote up to September last year. Most of them are around 21 or older. What a shame this is and what an indictment against our youth who will be our future leaders — it’s sad and perplexing.
Why are they not exercising their responsibility to register to vote? Is it indifference? Are they not able to see the difference between the government and the opposition? Who has performed with commitment and sincerity and who has not? Once they register, they just have to vote wisely.
While there are political leaders who are just, fair and dedicated and serve their constituents selflessly, there are also those who are only out to gain publicity and become popular. And then, there are also those who only serve the people when the elections are near. But, it is our duty, as citizens, to be responsible and vote in leaders who are worthy and who have served the people well. As citizens, we cannot abdicate our sacred duty and responsibility to vote.
The EC has much to do. It must go all out to win over those who have not yet registered to vote and conduct talks and awareness campaigns on voting procedures. EC also has to advise voters who intend to “spoil votes”, especially youths.
The EC could for instance:
EMPLOY more registrars and assistant registrars of voters;
STEP up its promotion campaign to register voters and discourage vote spoilers;
EDUCATE those who have not registered to fulfil their responsibility as citizens;
HAVE key productivity indicators. EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah should set this as a challenge to achieve higher voter turnouts and less vote spoiling;
ENSURE that the independence of the EC is enhanced to protect its integrity; and,
ABUSES such as gerrymandering of electoral constituencies and malappropriation of votes, should be addressed to ensure a free and fair GE14.
You need to vote to protect your future and the future of our beloved country and all her people.
The young generation must lead the way forward for a better Malaysia.
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Chairman, Asli Centre of Public Policy Studies.