Azhar Harun’s Departure Puts Electoral Reforms in Doubt

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Azhar Azizan Harun’s departure from the Election Commission will likely derail the electoral reform process started by Pakatan Harapan, said the Kota Melaka MP.

Khoo Poay Tiong said he is unsure whether Perikatan Nasional is committed towards seeing through the reforms started by the PH administration.

“Further, I am unsure if the current government is committed to seeing through the electoral reform process,” he said in a statement.

Under Azhar, who is popularly known as Art Harun, the commission carried out reforms to the electoral system progressively.

Among them is lowering the voting age to 18, automatic registration system scheduled to be implemented next year and improving the accessibility of polling stations for the disabled and elderly.

The voting process is also more transparent by appointing more credible observers and providing “live feed” during elections.

The electoral roll has also been cleaned up, whereby 348,098 names of the deceased were removed.

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“His decision to resign is indeed disappointing. The EC has enjoyed greater public confidence under his leadership, together with the other EC members,” Khoo said of the former EC chairman.

Azhar resigned as he has been nominated to replace Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff as the Dewan Rakyat speaker when Parliament meets.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will table a motion on July 13 to remove Ariff and his deputy, Nga Kor Ming.

“The ERC was set up by the PH government to review and make relevant recommendations for electoral reforms. The ERC’s interim report was submitted to the prime minister in January 2020 and the full report is due in August.”

Khoo called on Muhyiddin to make the report public if he is committed towards electoral reform.

“In Parliament, a Special Select Committee on Elections, of which I am a member, was set up in October 2019. Yet, the status of the committee remains uncertain as the new government has not indicated if it will retain the special select committees.”

He called on all stakeholders, including the government, EC, political parties and civil society, to continue with the electoral reform process.

Electoral reform should be a bipartisan issue championed by all Malaysians, as elections are at the heart of democracy, he said. – TMI