Electoral reforms in M'sia soon

By Florence A.Samy

KUALA LUMPUR - The Government is committed to electoral reforms and ensuring that parliamentary democracy is forever maintained, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"I am committed to electoral reform. We will undertake it.

"For example, there are concerns about phantom voters. We will ensure there is no chance for phantom voters," he said at the fifth annual Malaysian Student Leaders Summit here yesterday.

He also responded to the students' queries during the question-and-answer session.

He said measures being taken to improve the electoral system included the introduction of the biometric verification system and early voting among uniformed personnel.

"Do not doubt our commitment to improving the system.

"There is no such thing as postal votes. Those are early votes from people on duty. They vote on their own and not on other people's behalf," he said.

Najib also reiterated that there was parliamentary democracy and fair elections in the country.

"We have shortcomings but no one can dispute there is democracy.

"We have lost elections before. We have lost five states and PAS, which rules Kelantan, hung on to the state by a mere one seat in 2004," he noted in his speech.

Najib said people should not have doubts about fair elections, especially given past results where the opposition had won several states.

Questions asked by students ranged from nuclear matters, race and socio-economic; communication gap; electoral reform; and his stand on his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's past statement that he was Malay first and Malaysian second.

On Muhyiddin's remark, Najib said he did not want to respond in a manner that would divide him and his deputy.

"1Malaysia is our guiding policy. It does not matter what others say. At the end of the day, we have to stay united and be fair to all Malaysians."

He said it was a fallacy to state that dissent was not allowed, adding that those who took part in the July 9 rally were offered a stadium but took to the streets instead, which could have resulted in bystanders getting hurt.

"In a street demonstration, there is no guarantee of who is in a crowd.

"It is my duty to ensure that every single Malaysian's life and property is protected from harm," Najib added.