Set up parliamentary committee on electoral reforms, urge MPs

A group of MPs says a parliamentary select committee will be able to tackle certain electoral reforms immediately.

PETALING JAYA: A group of Pakatan Harapan (PH) backbenchers today called for a parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reforms to be established instead of creating an electoral reform committee (ERC).

The MPs said some of the proposed electoral reforms require a constitutional amendment such as lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 (Article 119(1a) of the Federal Constitution).

“Others such as the automatic registration of voters or making it easier to cast postal votes especially from Sabah and Sarawakian voters who are living, working or studying in Peninsular Malaysia are procedural issues which can be decided on without amending the constitution.

“These are the urgent and timely issues which a parliamentary select committee on electoral reform can get to work on immediately rather than having to wait for two years,” said a joint statement signed by six MPs.

The MPs are Maria Chin Abdullah (Petaling Jaya), Nurul Izzah Anwar (Permatang Pauh), Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh (Ledang), Oscar Ling Chai Yew (Sibu), Kasthuri Patto (Batu Kawan) and Khoo Poay Tiong (Kota Melaka).

The backbenchers were referring to the time frame given to the committee to complete its tasks including submitting report and acknowledgements, which the government will fine-tune and implement.

The Prime Minister’s Office had a few days ago announced the formation of the ERC which will be chaired by former Election Commission (EC) chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.

While the backbenchers agreed on the need to have an electoral reform committee, they felt it should be placed under the Parliament as one of the new select committees which will soon be established.

The ERC is out of Parliament’s purview.

This, they said, was consistent with one of Pakatan Harapan’s pledges in the run-up to the 14th general election.

“The EC should also report to this parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms since the EC is one of the nine agencies which will begin reporting directly to Parliament soon.”