Election Commission CANNOT dictate who we vote for

Can the Election Commission dictate who we vote for?

QUICK TAKE: It may seem that the government wants to exercise control over every aspect of our lives as citizens in this fair land. When the Election Commission (EC) jumped at the suggestion by controversial lecturer Ridhuan Tee by stating that candidates must qualify by having a credit in Bahasa Melayu, many threw up a fuss.

Rightly so, since by merit of language alone, several ministers may have to leave office, not to mention those of whom Bahasa Melayu is not their mother tongue.

Maybe, just to be fair, the EC should have a language competency test for prospective candidates. This test should be done upon nomination by the respective political parties. Held in a neutral location, and for which the results should be exhibited for public viewing.

Those disqualified few should have the option to take language lessons in selected EC-approved schools. Of course, they will have to pay a tuition fee that is GST rated, just so they can help the development of the country.

But seriously, if we take up the point to mandate that prospective candidates must have a credit in Bahasa Melayu in order to stand as a candidate, then something is wrong with the democratic process in Malaysia.

Can the EC dictate who we vote for?

A quick read of the Election Act 1958, would give you some insight to the authority of the EC in facilitating elections in Malaysia. The Election Act 1958 must be read alongside the Federal Constitution and thus, both documents are what give authority to the EC in the administration of elections.

The Federal Constitution Article 47 states, “Every citizen resident in the Federation is qualified to be a member – (b) of the Senate, if he is not less than thirty years old; (c) of the House of Representatives, if he is not less than twenty-one years old, unless he is disqualified for being a member by this Constitution or by any law made in pursuance of Article 48.”

Article 47 is clear in stating that a citizen of this country has the right to contest an election. The disqualifying clauses, as mentioned in Article 48, is that they are not mentally unstable, or a bankrupt, or a criminal, or a non-citizen.

Nowhere is there a mention of academic prowess. Regardless of their academic standing, a citizen can and is allowed to stand for election. This non-mention of academic qualification does not mean the political parties cannot impose their own conditions. It is the right of the political party to put forward their best candidate to the people.

This allowance to allow political parties the responsibility to put forward their best, does explain to a certain degree; the level of intelligence we see in some of our ministers in this day and age. If the candidate is not intelligent, it is the party’s fault.

Election Act 1958 is clear that the EC is to administer and facilitate elections. The voters are a primary responsibility of the EC, there is no mention of authority to filter candidates. The EC is not responsible for the quality of candidates. As long as the candidates meet the requirements of the Constitution, the EC is obliged to accept them as candidates.

Thus, it seems the EC cannot dictate who is allowed to be candidate other than what is mentioned in the Constitution.

07 May 2015 – theantdaily.com
Can the Election Commission dictate who we vote for?


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