It is wrong for any MP to resort to offering cash incentives to lure youngsters to register as voters, says electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah.
Chin was responding to a recent campaign headed by a PKR-linked NGO Invoke, where Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli had pledged RM300,000 of his personal savings to assist the campaign.
“I think it is very pathetic for an NGO to go through such lengths to ensure that youngsters register as voters,” she said, adding that she disagreed with Invoke’s move to attract prospective voters with cash incentives.
“Personally, I don’t quite agree with that because people should voluntarily register. This is your right and the general elections only takes place once in five years.”
She blamed the lack of voter registration on the Electoral Commission (EC), as it is the commission’s responsibility to encourage more Malaysians to register as voters.
“We have to question the EC because it is their job. It is not up to NGOs to give cash handouts to attract registrations.”
Chin reminded that Bersih 2.0 had proposed a system to automatically register 21-year-olds as voters, but lamented that the matter had fallen on deaf ears.
“At present, four million people were denied registration because the EC is so slow. We should actually go after the commission.
“The EC has failed us thoroughly in registering voters and this is actually disenfranchising the voters. We tried introducing auto-registrations but they didn’t accept it.”
Chin also slammed the EC for the lack of effective advertisements to reach out to youngsters, pointing out that the present system is simply too tedious.
“People who wish to register would have to either queue up at a post office or go to the EC’s office. So you are not giving people much options.
“Also, do we know where the EC has set up their registration booths during their roadshows? We don’t know because there is no form of advertising at all in newspapers.”
Meanwhile, anti-graft group Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) Executive Director Cynthia Gabriel told FMT that handing out cash incentives to lure voters is a bad move.
“Never dangle cash before young voters. What kind of values are we imparting to the young.
“Instead, Invoke should have educated youngsters with democracy,” Gabriel said.
“The political climate now may be repulsive to some. But, the ideals of a functioning society cannot be compromised with cash incentives.”
Yesterday, it was reported that all that the youths needed to do was to upload their voter registration slips, tell Invoke why they chose to register and provide some personal details to be in the running for the cash handouts.
Those with the best answers every week will win a top prize of RM1,000, two runners-up RM500 each and three others RM200 each.
Invoke had done an online survey that showed many youths may be persuaded to register if there was a cash incentive to do so.
Tarrence Tan@FMT Reporters Online