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Kampung Compass Points Letters My vote doesn't count - really?
My vote doesn't count - really? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 January 2012 22:41

By Jayanath Appudurai

First published in The Malaysian Insider

JAN 19 — The Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee has launched an ambitious campaign “Jom100” to encourage all registered Malaysians to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

Civil society organisations like Pusat KOMAS, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM), Voice Your Choice and many others that have been actively involved in voter education know that a more realistic number is somewhere between 75 and 85 percent. Be that as it may, the Bersih initiative is still a laudable one.

voters-2008To put things in perspective we need only look at the numbers (left) from the last general election.

Some points to be noted are:


  • Almost four million eligible citizens abdicated their right to be part of the democratic process.
  • In the final count a mere 274,973 votes separated the two coalitions — a number far less than the whole population of Shah Alam!
  • The current federal government was the choice of 27.2 per cent of those who voted.
  • The PR coalition was the choice of 25.3 per cent.
  • Almost 2.8 million registered voters did not turn up to vote!

    According to the Election Commission’s latest statistics there are 12 million registered voters on the rolls, that is, an additional one million have joined the ranks since March 2008.


    In the history of elections we have always registered an average 75 per cent turnout. Based on this track record we can reasonably expect nine million to turn out at the next GE.


    Thus, the real challenge for Bersih is to convince the remaining 25 per cent or approximately three million registered voters to turn out to achieve the “Jom 100” target.

    Registered voters in this category need to be convinced that their vote really counts.

    The usual “excuse” given, and that which will be continued to be given, is “my vote does not count”!

    In our “first-past-the-post’ system, a candidate with 52 per cent of the valid votes cast will be declared the winner.

    voters-perak-2008Registered voters who did not turn up on March 8, 2008 will be well advised to consider the results (left) for the Perak State Assembly before they “throw in the towel”!

    The slim majority “wins” should serve to educate the sceptics!

    If the BN did not win in Pengkalan Baru, Kubu Gajah and Alor Pongsu then the composition of the Perak Assembly would have been PR (34 seats) and BN (25 seats). Alternatively, if PR did not take the Lubok Merbau and Teja seats then the composition would have been BN (30) and PR (29).

    In all probability the Perak constitutional crisis of 2009 would have been avoided! And all of us, including the perpetrators, would have been spared the ignominy!

    Bersih needs to focus its resources on “cajoling” the large number of registered but traditionally “no show” electorate that their votes really count.


    Realistically if Bersih can succeed in ramping up the voter turnout to 85 per cent then they should pat themselves on the back for a job well done.

    This would mean that 10.2 million citizens would actually turn up to vote in the next GE.

    And that could hypothetically be a historic “game changer”!

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    Last Updated on Thursday, 19 January 2012 22:59

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