Mandatory voting okay but educate voters first

Tan Sri Richard Malanjum

KUCHING: Malaysia can introduce mandatory voting to compel the public to exercise their democratic duties in electing their leaders.

Former chief justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum said however, there has to be a mechanism to enforce the law to ensure the people cast their votes.

“We should implement mandatory voting, but the question is how to enforce it, namely how do you then enforce that everyone must vote and prosecute for not voting?.

“It is a good idea; I think in Australia there is mandatory voting, as well as in New Zealand, but the question is how do we enforce it?

“There is no point to having the law if we cannot fully enforce it,” he said.

He said this during a webinar organised by The Sarawak Initiatives (TSI) today.

Malanjum said sometimes legislation is only effective if the people are open to it and that the sense of responsibility to vote must be inculcated among the people.

“If there is a sense of responsibility to vote, you don’t need the law, so the important thing is to educate the voting populace.

“If we can get them to understand that, they will come and vote; in the same way in the last election where many come out to vote as they understand the importance of voting,” he pointed out.

The veteran lawyer said however, there is a danger that mandatory voting is resorting to ‘rule by law’ as the law must be used to get the people to vote instead of doing it of their free will.

“If you force the people and they don’t want to vote, they can just go there and spoil the vote; so what is the difference?

“So yes maybe (we can implement mandatory voting), but it is more important to educate the voters first,” he said.