PETALING JAYA: DAP’s Teo Nie Ching says the revelation that there are only 205 assistant registrar officers (ARO) in the whole country is very disappointing when one considers there were 5,720 AROs in 2011.
The Kulai MP was referring to the answer from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said in a parliamentary written reply on Oct 25, on the statistic provided by the Election Commission (EC).
“It is only 4% of the number in 2011. Is it any surprise that with the 14th general election being just around the corner, we still have close to 3.8 million eligible Malaysians who have yet to register themselves,” Teo said in a statement.
She added that the EC should put voter registration as a top priority or implement automatic voter registration.
“The voter registration exercise reached its peak in 2011, where 1,023,170 Malaysians were registered as new voters in that year alone, with 5,720 AROs on duty.
“However, the number of AROs was down to 4,777 in 2012. As a result, the number of new voters registered also dropped by 30% in 2012.
“In 2013, the number of new voters registered was a low of 195,193 because the number of AROs had also decreased further to 1,901,” she said.
According to Teo, the main reason behind this major drop was due to EC’s decision to neither extend the term of the existing AROs nor appoint new ones.
“Until today, EC has failed to give any solid and reasonable grounds as to why they decided to drop all AROs from political parties.
“We had conducted various roadshows and campaigns using own resources in morning markets, night markets or shopping malls without any financial assistance from the EC,” she said referring to how before 2013, all political parties had AROs under the authority of the EC to register new voters.
She called for the EC to recognise therefore, that voter registration is closely linked with the number of AROs.
“In order to allow more Malaysians to cast their votes in the coming GE14, the EC should immediately appoint elected representatives or their assistants as ARO.
“If the EC cannot improve their efficiency in registering more voters, they must either implement automatic voter registration, or allow more representatives from the political parties to be appointed as ARO,” Teo said.
She added that the rights of Malaysians should not be denied by complicating a simple process through bureaucratic processes and procedures.