Get set for GE13
Writer: Basil Foo
Published: Fri, 04 Jan 2013
EACH new year brings promise, hope and most of all predictions of things to come. Putting aside the usual farfetched prophecies of doomsdays, economic recovery or turmoil or famous people getting married or divorced, one prediction will surely take place in 2013.
And that is, Malaysia must hold its 13th General Election.
In accordance with the Federal Constitution, Parliament is automatically dissolved on April 29 while polling must be held within 60 days or by June 27.
In the run-up to this, Selangor Times will bring a series of General Election features beginning with this GE 101.
Who is running?
Barisan Nasional (BN) is a coalition of 13 political parties which was formed in 1973 as a successor to the Alliance Party and has been the ruling party since independence.
Formed in 1952, the Alliance comprised the United Malays National Organization (Umno), Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) and Malayan Indian Congress (MIC).
The three-party coalition successfully gained the majority, 51 of 52, of parliamentary seats during the country’s first General Election (GE) in 1955.
The British then gave up their power and the Federation of Malaya gained independence from Britain in 1957.
While BN’s three largest parties continue to be Umno, MCA and MIC, many other component parties have now joined the coalition.
These include Kuala Lumpur-based Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan) and Peoples Progressive Party (PPP).
BN’s Sarawak-based parties include Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS).
The Sabah components are the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).
The current BN chairperson is Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak while the deputy chairperson is Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Both leaders are from Umno. There are 12 vice-chairpersons in the coalition, with each of them being a member of each of the other 12 political parties which are not Umno.
After Malaya’s first GE was won by the Alliance, its leader, Tunku Abdul Rahman, became the first Prime Minister of Malaya.
He was credited for freeing his country through diplomatic efforts in 1956, when he led negotiations for independence in London. He remained in power from 1957 till 1970.
The second Prime Minister was Tun Abdul Razak Hussein who was responsible for setting up BN and launching the New Economic Policy (NEP).
The NEP was initiated after the May 13 riots in 1969 to tackle economic disparities which fuelled racial antagonism. Razak held office until his death in 1976.
Tun Hussein Onn was the third Prime Minister from 1976 to 1981. His government at the time introduced the Rukun Tetangga programme.
The neighbourhood watch programme was to foster unity among grassroot communities and forming it gave Hussein the soubriquet “Bapa Perpaduan” or Father of Unity.
From 1981 up to 2003, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad led the BN government for a further span of 22 years.
Among the government’s achievements during his tenure was the establishment of national car line Proton and physical developments like the Kuala Lumpur Tower.
Succeeding Mahathir was Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who was in office till 2009.
While under Abdullah, BN won a significant victory in the 2004 election before losing five states in the 12th GE in 2008.
Najib has assumed his role as Prime Minister since 2009. Among his notable achievements is the on-going 1Malaysia campaign.
Acceptance and meritocracy are some of the values espoused in the campaign, which has Najib calling on government officials to emphasise ethnic harmony and unity.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is a coalition of the People’s Justice Party (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS).
The coalition was formed in April, 2008, after the 12th GE where they gained control of five state assemblies and denied BN a two-thirds majority in the federal Parliament.
The three parties previously formed the Alternative Front during the 10th GE.
As a result of the March 2008 GE, PR gained control of the state governments of Kelantan, Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor.
The government of Perak was under PR until February 2009 when three of PR’s state assemblypersons defected and became BN-friendly independents.
This caused the state to return under the BN government’s administration.
PR remains an informal coalition as its application with the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to formalise its existence has not yet elicited a response.
PR released a long-term plan dubbed “Buku Jingga” or Orange Book which acts as a framework if the opposition coalition forms the federal government in the next GE.
The administrative master plan was formally agreed between the three component parties in 2010.
Included in the plan is the increase in teacher incentives, abolishment of the highway toll system and increase in royalties for oil-producing states.
PKR was formed in 2003 by a merger of the National Justice Party and the older Malaysian People’s Party.
PKR is currently led by Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who was released in 2004 after spending six years in prison after he was acquitted of charges against him.
Anwar was also the Deputy Prime Minister to Dr Mahathir from 1993 to 1998.
PKR’s constitution outlines its core principles of establishing a society that is just and a nation that is democratic, progressive and united.
During its second national congress in December 2005, PKR delegates passed a motion on the New Economic Agenda.
The policy was envisioned as a non-racial economic policy to replace the race-based NEP.
DAP was formed in 1965 and registered as a social democratic party in 1966.
It was formed to uphold the ideals of a democratic Malaysia based on the principles of racial equality, social and economic justice.
PAS is an Islamist political party which began in 1951 when Islamic scholars met in the nation’s capital to form a national “ulama” society.
PAS’ involvement in local politics began when it entered the elections race in 1955. They have also worked together with non-Muslims for political purposes since 1953.
The participation of PAS in the 1959 GE resulted in a big win when they managed to take over the governments of Terengganu and Kelantan.
LAST year’s talk of Selangor holding its state elections at a different time from the 13th General Election (GE) came with good reason including the ability for political parties to focus their resources on one election at a time.
This came while the Election Commission protested against wastage, claiming that having too many elections concurrently can put a strain on the commission’s resources.
Usually, state elections are held simultaneously with the parliamentary election but each state can decide when to hold its election.
For example, in the 1999 GE, the state elections of the 11 states in Peninsular Malaysia were held simultaneously with the parliamentary election. However, the state elections of Sabah and Sarawak were held at different dates.
In the 2004 and 2008 GEs, the state election of Sabah was held together with the parliamentary election, but Sarawak held its state election in 2006 and 2011.
At the state level, voters elect their representatives, or state assemblypersons, to the “Dewan Undangan Negeri” (DUN), or state legislative assembly.
The number of representatives varies between the different states, with as many as 71 in Sarawak and as little as 15 in Perlis. Selangor has 56.
The party that forms the majority in the state assembly will form the state government.
However, Malaysia’s parliament, called the “Dewan Rakyat”, or House of Representatives, is made up of 222 parliamentary seats.
The members of Parliament are elected from constituencies using the first-past-the-post system.
This means that the party which has the majority of members in the parliament will form the federal government.
The Federal Constitution requires that the GE be held at least once in every five years.
The Prime Minister can still ask the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to dissolve Parliament at any time before the five-year period expires.
Malaysian parliamentary and state constituencies frequently overlap one another.
For example, in Selangor, the parliamentary constituency of Klang contains the state constituencies of Pelabuhan Klang, Pandamaran and Kota Alam Shah.
The parliamentary constituency of Petaling Jaya Utara contains the state constituencies of Kampung Tunku and Damansara Utama.
When voting, voters normally receive two paper ballots, one for the parliamentary seat, the other for the state assembly seat.
They would make their choice of candidates and mark the ballot papers.
However, if the state decides to hold their state elections on a different date, voters will only receive one ballot for the parliamentary seat in the upcoming GE.
How to register to vote?
ANY Malaysian citizens above 21 years old must first register with the Election Commission (EC).
They can register at any offices affiliated with the EC.
Pos Malaysia also handles voter registration. All you need to do is bring your MyKad, get in line and wait for your turn.
How to check voter status?
Checking your voter status can be done online or via SMS. Visit www.spr.gov.my and head to “Semakan Daftar Pemilih”.
Just enter your MyKad number and check to see if your name, MyKad number and gender are accurate.
You will also receive information on the location of the parliamentary and state constituencies you will be voting in.
How to vote?
Only registered voters are eligible to vote in the GE. After identity verification at a voting center, each voter receives two paper ballots.
One paper ballot would be for the parliamentary seat of the constituency they reside in according to the address on their MyKad and another for the state assembly seat.
For federal territories where there is no state assembly, and states whose state election is held on a different date from the GE, voters only receive one ballot for the parliamentary seat.
Each voter walks into individual booths to mark the ballots in secret.
The voter marks on each ballot the candidate of his or her choice with a cross beside the candidate’s name and party symbol.
Once the voter is done with marking their ballot, they fold their ballots and drop them into separate ballot boxes for parliamentary and state assembly seats.