Time to review First-Past-The-Post election system, says Bersih 2.0

19-Sep-2018 Intellasia | New Straits Times | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Bersih 2.0 believes it is time that Malaysia reviews whether it should maintain the existing First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system or adopt a Mixed Member systems with some lawmakers elected through Party List Proportional Representation (List-PR).

The Bersih 2.0 steering committee, in a statement, said PKR president-elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s upcoming bid for the Port Dickson parliamentary seat in a by-election is cause for a wider debate on both the FPTP electoral system and the top-down and opaque candidacy selection process.

The election watchdog said while Malaysians should be critical of the Port Dickson by-election, their scrutiny should also cover the systemic defects and not end with personalities.

“Because FPTP mandate is personal, the current system necessitates by-elections whenever vacancies arise, whether the incumbents succumb to illness or accident, becomes incapable or disqualified or resign.

The resignation of the Port Dickson MP Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah to pave way for Anwar to return to the Parliament shows the rigidity of the FPTP system in allowing party’s altering their leadership lineup,” it said.

Bersih said the inflexibility for parties to adjust their leadership line-up has wide implications beyond this case and beyond by-elections to replace deceased incumbents.

“The practice of appointing lost candidates or unelected technocrats as senators before their appointment as ministers or deputy ministers is one such consequence, making Senate even more a rubber stamp. The PH administration now has five senators.

“More idiosyncratically, Anwar’s Kajang Move in 2014 was triggered because his party could not name him as a back-up candidate as Menteri Besar without a by-election.

“Anwar Ibrahim who has triggered three by-elections twice due to political trials so that he can lead a government has the moral responsibility to make clear if he wants to keep the rigid system and conveniently bends it to his interest,” it said.

It said that beyond the question of dynastic politics directed to the Anwar family, the bigger question is top-down and opaque candidacy selection process across almost every party in Malaysia.

“The GE14 saw many new candidates fielded by both BN and PH on last-minutes arrangement or against the will of local branches. Such undemocratic practices often cause local discontent, boycott or even sabotage. In fact, the resigned parliamentarian for Port Dickson was such a last-minute pick.

“By right, FPTP candidates should be selected bottom-up by local branches, not party headquarters, as in the UK where the FPTP system is born and still applied. Nomination of candidates by party headquarters is only justified in List-PR.

“When candidacy selection is top-down and opaque, can allegations of nepotism or cronyism be avoided even if son, a daughter or an unrelated protege of a prominent leader is qualified to be a candidate in their own right?”



Category: Malaysia

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