Fixed term not ‘fairer’ without clean polls, says Pakatan

By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
Jun 22, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 — A fixed five-year parliamentary term would not be a “fairer” system for any party without the guarantee of a clean and fair election process, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers said today.

Ipoh Timor MP Lim Kit Siang said minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had “missed the point” when the latter made the suggestion for a fixed term yesterday, pointing out that many other countries that still allow the early dissolution of Parliament do not misuse that power.

“The problem in our case is when the decision for early dissolution is camouflaged in such secrecy,” he said, referring to the current uncertainty over the date for the 13th general election.

Lim said that in other nations, adequate notice is given to all parties on the date of the polls, as well as a lengthier campaign period, to allow all election candidates enough time to woo voters.

In Malaysia, according to the recently approved recommendations by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms, campaigning for parties has been set at a minimum 10-day period. The opposition and election watchdog group Bersih 2.0 have been lobbying for a minimum 21-day campaign period.

Several dates have been bandied about over the past two years as potential polls dates for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to gain his own mandate after taking over from Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2009, leading to concerns in the economy over uncertainty in policymaking.

Opposition lawmakers have complained that Najib’s purported dithering was likely designed to throw their campaign off balance while the business community said the constant speculation over election dates has created uncertainty in their trades.

“This element of surprise that they hold in their hands, they have been using it in a very unfair manner,” said Lim.

Nazri had suggested yesterday that Malaysia allow a fixed five-year mandate for those elected in a general election, much like that provided for in the newly-passed “Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011” in the United Kingdom.

The Act, which received royal assent last September and officially comes into force in 2015, stipulates that the British Parliament will “automatically” dissolve 17 working days before the polling day of a general election.

The date for polls is fixed, and must occur on the “first Thursday in May of the fifth year after the previous general election”, beginning with May 7, 2015.

Malaysia, which follows the Westminster parliamentary system, currently allows the prime minister to dissolve Parliament at any time of his choosing before his full, five-year mandate expires.

However, the PSC had in April proposed a minimum four-year mandate for governments, stipulating that Parliament can only be dissolved after it has passed its four-year mark.

“Nazri is missing the point here. A fixed term or a non-fixed term is not the most important thing,” Lim told The Malaysian Insider.

“The point here is the abuse of power… in making use of money, media and machinery to win the elections. That is the real problem here.

“So you can remove that element of surprise by allowing a fixed-term system but it does not guarantee free and fair elections. Rather, it is about whether the Election Commission… is it competent? Will elections be conducted without bias?”

PKR vice-president and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar concurred with Lim on the matter, saying that the implementation of a fixed-term Parliament would come to “naught” if elections are not free and fair.

“Agreed. It does help in levelling the playing field somewhat, reduce level of politicking and allows politicians to focus on day-to-day work.

“However, without a free and fair electoral process, everything comes to naught,” she said.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Friday, 22 June 2012 - 7:12 pm

    Yeah have a clean election first, then only talk about a fixed or “variable” parliamentary term.

  2. #2 by Winston on Friday, 22 June 2012 - 9:34 pm

    In fact, the delay in the next GE should be a blessing in disguise.
    Since the opposition has more time on their hands now why not use it fully to attack the so-called safe citadels of UMNO/BN, especially in East Malaysia.
    That would be far more remunerative than just moping about the oft postponed GE!

  3. #3 by Taxidriver on Friday, 22 June 2012 - 10:10 pm

    In this time of economic uncertainty, other countries are taking measures to put the economy on track and to ensure the impact on their citizens is minimal. Bolehland leaders are not in the least concerned about the economic health of the nation, choosing instead to pass laws worthless to the rakyat, prefering instead to spend time and energy to find ways and means to cheat to win the GE. Rakyat cannot trust such leaders anymore. The earlier they are kicked out from Putrajaya, the better it is for nation and rakyat. Why can;t they just look across the causeway to see how the PAP governs Singapore.

  4. #4 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 23 June 2012 - 12:14 am

    Without clean polls, capturing Putrajaya will only be a dream. Will we have a clean poll in the coming elections? Will PR be defeated by foul means and see their dreams evaporate?

    The coming GE will be for the PR to lose. See the three component parties having civil wars everywhere even in their own states? And some of them still want to woo and depend on known frogs. What more is there to say?

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 23 June 2012 - 6:06 am

    //So you can remove that element of surprise by allowing a fixed-term system but it does not guarantee free and fair election//. This is true – having a fixed date for dissolution of parliament (issue 1) does not translate to free and fair electoral process, which is a pertinent as it is a separate issue 2. For now, issue 1 is whether on a standalone basis a fixed-term system is better than that which presently affords the incumbent PM the right to cherry pick a date anytime within the 5 year term to call GE, which is conventionally assumed to give him the added advantage to manipulate events and seize on any temporary blip of popularity -otherwise not there- to choose a timing for GE favourable to ruling party/coalition as against the opposition. That’s all. Fixing such a term does not imply better electoral process, so the challenge to the proposal for change only makes sense if it were argued that such a proposal which gives an impression of change of electoral process does not improve the entire electoral process in a substantially meaningful way if the other unfair parts of this process were not changed and therefore this proposal, though meritorious on its own alone, does not deserve the support when it is grounded on the unmeritorious intentions to deflect attention to other more salient parts of the electoral process requiring urgent change in the cause of fair and free election!

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 23 June 2012 - 6:09 am

    Ooops – ” to deflect attention “from” (not “to”) other more salient parts of the electoral process”

  7. #7 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Saturday, 23 June 2012 - 8:20 am

    Welll OK. Now what about fair election and and clean election?

  8. #8 by drngsc on Saturday, 23 June 2012 - 9:01 am

    Yes Nazri,
    Without clean, free and fair election, election is a farce, fixed term or not. Anyway, I understand that Nazri’s boss has objected to fixed term.

    The only thing that fixed term will do is to help us avoid election campaign fatigue. When election dates are guess work and speculation, campaigners and their supporters may suffer from campaign fatigue. Sometimes, election campaigning is like a sprint event, now it looks like a marathon / endurance race.
    PR must see how to energise her supporters to avoid campaign fatigue, and fight the feeling of being worn out, becoz,

    We must change the tenant at Putrajaya. GE 13 is coming. GE 13 is coming ( dont know when ). Without adequate safeguards for a clean free and fair elections, first to Bersih 4.0, then to GE 13, then to Putrajaya.

    Change we must. Change we can. Change we will. Change through the ballot box.

  9. #9 by Winston on Saturday, 23 June 2012 - 10:17 am

    What is even more important then fixed term or variable term is a mechanism to stop a runaway Federal Government from doing whatever it likes regardless.
    So, that every time a detestable government becomes apparent, the mechanism will kick in to interdict it or even depose of it.
    That’s the sort of mechanism that must be implemented.

  10. #10 by Winston on Saturday, 23 June 2012 - 10:30 am

    Doesn’t it strike Malaysians as rather sinister and odd that this country, even after five and a half decades of independence still does not have free and fair elections?

  11. #11 by drngsc on Saturday, 23 June 2012 - 2:38 pm

    Hi Winston,
    It is us. For 55years we thought that we had Western, Westminister type democracy. We were wrong. We have UMNO Style democracy, where you get to cast a vote which is of no consequence as they decide the outcome. It is more akin to feudalism or dictatorship. 55years later, we have woken up, and realised gosh, we have been conned for 55years. Now what shall we do about it.

    We need to change the tenant at Putrajaya. GE 13 is coming. Without real electoral reform, first to Bersih 4.0, then to GE 13, then to Putrajaya.

    Change we must. Change we can. Change we will. Change be the ballot.

  12. #12 by monsterball on Saturday, 23 June 2012 - 2:41 pm

    Whatever said…proposed or done by any UMNO b Ministers are covered up with reasons that are for their benefits only…….so much so….so are so ridiculously idiotic said…proposed or done.
    As usual…Nazri is making a fool of himself.
    Najib refusing to debate with Anwar said that debating is not the Malay culture.

  13. #13 by boh-liao on Saturday, 23 June 2012 - 3:00 pm

    Wait mah, got 2 give duit $$$ 2 rakyat first (2nd round) b4 calling 4 GE13, all happy n grateful 2 UmnoB/BN n VOTE 4 UmnoB/BN 1 – BUYING votes lor, easi q

  14. #14 by k1980 on Saturday, 23 June 2012 - 10:47 pm

    Contest to name the 2 pandas —

    First Prize ( a free stay in Kamunting camp )

    1. Al-Tantuyo and Bijan

  15. #15 by Taxidriver on Monday, 25 June 2012 - 10:42 am

    Dear k1980,

    As for the names of the 2 pandas, how about Pendatang and Mata Sepit?

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