Bersih 2.0 tells govt to improve political system first instead of punishing voters

Bersih 2.0 says the government should educate the public on the importance of voting, voting process and democratic principles via voting education programmes, adding that public participation is fundamental in the electoral process and is a sacred right of the people. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Bersih 2.0 says the government should educate the public on the importance of voting, voting process and democratic principles via voting education programmes, adding that public participation is fundamental in the electoral process and is a sacred right of the people. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — Punishing voters who do not vote is not a viable solution and is inconsistent with the principle of freedom of choice by the people, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) said today.

Bersih 2.0 in a statement said that the government should instead educate the public on the importance of voting, voting process and democratic principles via voting education programmes, adding that public participation is fundamental in the electoral process and is a sacred right of the people.

It added that the government should also focus on improving its voting access to the public so that Malaysians can carry out their responsibilities as voters.

“Punitive measures without providing good infrastructures, assistance and opportunities to the people will only erode voters' trust in the democratic and electoral process as they will vote because they are compelled to and not because of their responsibility,” they said.

Bersih 2.0 added that certain reforms need to be implemented immediately to improve voters to voting, such as fixing the election date, improving infrastructure for people with disabilities to vote, providing a voting period instead of a voting day, expanding absentee voting rights to those who reside outside of their constituency and adding more polling stations and polling streams to reduce long queues.

“The electoral process requires the participation of the people, and the people are more likely to vote if the electoral system is clean and fair, with a level playing field provided to all competing parties.

“The politicians should focus on restoring people's trust in our political system and democracy by fixing systemic weaknesses and loopholes that allow midterm changes of governments through party-hopping. They must give people a reason to believe that it is still worthwhile coming out to vote in GE15,” they said.         

Yesterday, Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan proposed amending the Federal Constitution to make voting in elections mandatory, suggesting punishing those who refused to vote with a fine as well as a ban on renewing their driving licences.

He said statistics put the voter turnout at 82.32 per cent for the last general election in 2018 and questioned why the remainder who were eligible didn’t do so.

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