Let’s look at the news snippets first….
The conundrum of who is the rightful menteri besar of Perak will be resolved on Tuesday (Feb 9) when the five-man Federal Court bench pronounces its ruling.
Twenty-four marginal seats are expected to play a major role in deciding which party rules Perak, should a snap poll be called
And then finally this:-
Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar recently disclosed that 28 per cent or 4.39 million Malaysians had yet to register as voters. Records show there were 11.08 million voters in the country, while the number of those aged 21 and above was 15.47 million as at the end of last year.
Selangor topped the list with the most number of unregistered voters at 787,000, followed by Johor (605,000), Perak (526,000) and Sarawak (473,000).
Let’s look at the facts now
1. BN cannot expect to continue to rule in Perak forever without calling for state level elections. Sooner or later, their time will be up and they have to go back to the people for fresh mandates.
2. Every vote counts – so getting even one person to register as a voter can make a big difference as to who wins the seat
3. Pakatan Rakyat in Perak has been screwed by the 3 frogs that jumped out from Pakatan Rakyat – so winning more seats will ensure similar will not happen again (frogs may jump again but that will not cause fall of a government)
Before I got married, Perak was just another state in Malaysia where I had relatives to go to for occasional holiday – so whatever happens in the state, it really did not impact me much. But that was last time – now, I am pretty much very interested on who runs the show in Perak. The impact is just too great to be ignored. If PR can do well at state level, it gives us, the voters, the confidence that they will do well at federal level too.
Having 526,000 unregistered voters in Perak is worrying fact – Pakatan Rakyat may lose crucial seats due to missing “support not translated to votes”. This is something Malaysia Today has highlighted many, many times.
7,944,274 Malaysians came out to vote out of about 10.8 million registered voters in the March 2008 general election.
That was about 70% plus. This means just under 30% did not bother to vote. So that is the number of Malaysians who don’t care. And we are not yet including the 4 million plus who did not even register to vote. Add that to those who did not vote then about 7.5 million Malaysians did not vote because they don’t care.
Got that? 7.9 million Malaysians care and 7.5 million Malaysians don’t care. So, do we blame the Malays for the problems facing this country or do we blame the 7.5 million who did not vote for change and are quite happy not doing anything and allowing what is happening to continue happening?
Back in Taiping where I spend my time the most these days, it is good to know that Pakatan Rakyat is still commanding a good support from the locals – I personally dealt with their service centre staff who get things done very efficiently and take the trouble to make sure the constituent is well taken care off. I am surprised that despite not running the state government, the people in the service centres can be very resourceful when getting things done.
(These guys are good and efficient but need to do more to attract and register new voters)
But they need to do more than just good service – they need to get these unregistered voters to register. They need to work on all avenues – educate these people, arrange convoy to the post office for registration, pass the registration forms around, get the EC officers to open ad-hoc counters, whatever.
But even so, understandably, there is only so much PR or BN or the EC can do. Ultimately the responsibility of registration will fall on those unregistered voters themselves. They need to take the time off and get themselves registered. Who they want to vote for is secondary but the primary matter is that they have registered and when the time comes, have come out and voted.
I could not help repeating what Raja Petra said in his post – “Registering as a voter is your constitutional right. But voting is not your right. It is your duty. So exercise your right and fulfil your duty”