KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya has been urged to amend the Federal Constitution to make it compulsory for Malaysians to vote during elections.
Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) pointed out that 22 countries have already made voting compulsory, including two of Malaysia’s neighbours, Thailand and Singapore.
“It’s just once every five years, but some people don’t go out to vote. What is this? It’s not like it’s every month. During GE14, there were 14.9 million voters, but the number of people who went to cast their vote was 12.2 million.
“Were the other 2.7 million people sleeping or what? They didn’t go out to vote although it’s just once every five years,” he said during the debate on the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) today.
The Umno secretary-general also suggested that those who refuse to go out and vote should be slapped with light fines of RM100 to RM200, or be prohibited from renewing their driving licence.
He said recent by-elections over the past three years had seen low turnouts. This included the Port Dickson by-election won by PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, which saw only 58% of voters casting their ballots.
Ahmad also urged Putrajaya to work towards building one million affordable homes under the 12MP and control the prices and rental rates, saying these were the needs of Malaysian youths.
He told economic affairs minister Mustapa Mohamed, who was in the hall, that the target of building 500,000 low-cost homes under the 12MP was insufficient.
Towards the end of his speech, he reiterated that he was the victim of the absence of a political funding act, prompting Khoo Poay Tiong (PH-Kota Melaka) to interject repeatedly.
“If you’re a victim, why did you pay the RM1.1 million compound,” asked Khoo, referring to the amount Ahmad paid which saw him being acquitted by the High Court on charges of money laundering and giving false statements to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
Khoo was issued a warning for disrupting Ahmad’s speech by Speaker Azhar Harun, who had to repeatedly turn off the DAP MP’s microphone.
Ahmad explained that he had been offered the compound previously but turned it down and chose to fight his case due to objections to the amount. However, he said he relented because of the slow process.
A settlement was reached and he admitted to receiving RM1.1 million from Najib Razak, not RM2 million as alleged, and paid the compound.
“Since I paid the compound, I was acquitted. That’s the court’s decision and we must respect it,” he said.