Malaysian Electoral System Reform and the Challenges of its Implementation After the 14th General Election
Prior to the 14th general election (GE-14), electoral practices in Malaysia have been often criticised as being obscure and biased since it was plagued with issues such as dubious voter registers and ballot paper fraud. Therefore, in its manifesto during GE-14, Pakatan Harapan (PH) promised to reform this electoral practice to make it more independent, transparent, and fair. PH then won the GE-14 on the strength of this vow, forcing it to keep its manifesto pledge. However, implementing the said promise is not easy as most of the proposals involve amendments to the Federal Constitution that require the support of at least a two-thirds majority. The fact that PH lacks such a majority has raised the issue of whether or not the objective to reform the electoral system can be materialised. Thus, this article examines the aspects of electoral reform implemented by PH during its 22 months in power and assesses the challenges faced in implementing such electoral system reform. The concept of electoral reform was used as an analytical tool in this article. This article mainly obtained its data from secondary sources including books, journals, theses, official government documents and websites, while primary data were collected from unstructured interviews with authoritative informants. Findings revealed that among the important reforms of the country's electoral system that have been accomplished by PH are improving the standard operating procedures of elections, enhancing election rules that do not require amendments, amending laws that require simple majority support in the parliament, and implementing ‘high-impact’ electoral reforms that require amendments to the Federal Constitution. Moreover, it was also discovered that the main challenge to reforming the electoral system was the constraint of electoral rule amendments that require the approval of a two-thirds majority of parliamentarians. Other obstacles included politicians' unwillingness to accept a new electoral system culture, barriers to accessing data and information owned by other agencies, discrepancies between federal and state legislation, and financial constraints on improving existing hardware and systems necessary for electoral reform success.
Agustino, L. (2013). Pendemokrasian di Indonesia: Kelahiran, penyebaran dan kematangan kesedaran politik. Bangi: Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Babbie, E. (2014). The basics of social research. Ed. ke-6. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Bernama (2019, 2 November). SPR: Masa mengundi dipanjangkan sampai 5.30 petang. Malaysiakini. https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/498309
Bernama (2020, 28 February). Kos PRU antara RM750j hingga RM800j. Berita Harian. https://www.bharian.com.my/berita/nasional/2020/02/660435/kos-pru-antara-rm750j-hingga-rm800j
BERSIH (2019). Laporan pemerhatian pilihan raya kecil P078 Cameron Highlands. http://www.bersih.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Laporan-Pemerhatian-Pilihan-Raya-Kecil-P078-Cameron-Highlands.pdf
Bishop, S. & Hoeffler, A. (2016). Free and fair elections: A new database. Journal of Peace Research, 53(4), 608-616.
Chi, E. (2014). Two party contests and the politics of electoral reforms: The case of Taiwan. Government and Opposition, 49(4), 658-681.
Dahl, R.A. (1971). Polyarchy: Participation and opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Dettman, S. & Gomez, E.T. (2019). Political financing reform: Politics, policies and patronage in Malaysia. Journal of Contemporary Asia, 49, 1-20.
Dewan Negara Malaysia (2019). Perbahasan rang undang-undang Perlembagaan (Pindaan) 2019. Parlimen Keempat Belas Penggal Kedua. Penyata Rasmi Parlimen Dewan Negara, 2(15), 20-79.
Dewan Rakyat Malaysia (2019). Usul Perdana Menteri: Rang undang-undang Perlembagaan (pindaan) 2019. Parlimen Keempat Belas Penggal Kedua. Penyata Rasmi Dewan Rakyat, 2(30), 45-170.
Elklit, J. & Svensson, P. (1997). What makes elections free and fair? Journal of Democracy, 8(3), 32-46.
Hall, T.E. (2013). US registration reform. Electoral Studies, 32(4), 589-596.
Hellmann, O. (2014). Electoral reform in Asia: Institutional engineering against ‘money politics’. Japanese Journal of Political Science, 15(2), 275-298.
Irwan Muhammad Zain (2020). MPN anggap cadangan perkenalkan sistem perwakilan berkadar untungkan DAP. Astro Awani, 12 Februari. http://www.astroawani.com/berita-malaysia/mpn-anggap-cadangan-perkenalkan-sistem-perwakilan-berkadar-untungkan-dap-230531
Katz, R.S. (2005). Why are there so many (or so few) electoral reforms? In Gallagher, M. & Mitchell, P. (eds.). The politics of electoral systems (pp. 57-76). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Khoo, Ying Hooi (2014). Electoral reform movement in Malaysia. Suvannabhumi, 6(2), 85-106.
Khoo, Ying Hooi (2016). Malaysia’s 13th general elections and the rise of electoral reform movement. Asian Politics & Policy, 8(3), 418–435.
Leyenaar, M. & Hazan, R.Y. (2011). Reconceptualising electoral reform. West European Politics, 34(3), 437-455.
Lyons, T. (2002). Elections to end conflict: War termination, democratization and international policy. In Mcmahon, E.R. & Sinclair, T.A.P. (eds.). Democratic institution performance: Research and policy perspectives (pp. 125-137). Westport: Praeger Publisher.
Mahdzir Khalid (2021, 9 October). Minister of rural development, interview at his office.
Mohamad Sabu (2021, 26 September). Former defense minister and MP for Kota Raja, interview at Times Square.
Mohd Nasaruddin Parzi (2019). Kerjasama semua pihak elak SPR ‘kepenatan’. Berita Harian, 11 September. https://www.bharian.com.my/rencana/komentar/2019/09/605748/ kerjasama-semua-pihak-elak-spr-kepenatan
Morgenbesser, L. & Pepinsky, T.B. (2018). Elections as causes of democratization: Southeast Asia in comparative perspective. Comparative Political Studies, 52(1), 3-35.
Norris, P. (2011). Cultural explainations of electoral reform: A policy cycle model. West European Politics, 34(3), 531-550.
Ong, Kian Ming, Kasuya, Y. & Mori, K. (2017). Malapportionment and democracy: A curvilinear relationship. Electoral Studies, 49, 118-127.
Ostwald, K. (2013). How to win a lost election: Malapportionment and Malaysia’s 2013 general election. The Round Table: The Commonweath Journal of International Affairs, 102(6), 521-532.
Pakatan Harapan (2018). Buku Harapan: Membina negara memenuhi harapan. http://kempen.s3.amazonaws.com/pdf/Buku_Harapan.pdf
Perlembagaan Persekutuan (2020). Kuala Lumpur: Pesuruhjaya Penyemak Undang-Undang Malaysia.
Rahat, G. & Hazan, R.Y. (2011). The barriers to electoral system reform: A synthesis of alternative approaches. West European Politics, 34(3), 478–94.
Stockton, H. (2010). How rules matter: Electoral reform in Taiwan. Social Science Quarterly, 91(1), 21-41.
Streb, M. J. (2008). Rethinking American electoral democracy. New York: Routledge.
Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (2018). Kenyataan media bilangan 62/2018: 59 kertas undi pos bagi pilihan raya kecil (PRK) DUN N.49 Sungai Kandis dikeluarkan. https://www.spr.gov.my/sites/default/files/KM%2062.2018.pdf
Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (2019a). Info SPR: ahli suruhanjaya. http://www.spr.gov.my/ms/info-spr/carta-organisasi/ahli-suruhanjaya
Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (2019b). Panduan pendaftaran MYSPRDaftar Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya Malaysia. https://mysprdaftar.spr.gov.my/muat_turun/PANDUAN_PENDAF TARAN_MYSPRDAFTAR.pdf.
Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (2019c). Kenyataan media bilangan 71/2019: Penjelasan berkaitan Undi18. https://www.spr.gov.my/sites/default/files/KM71%20PDF%203.9.2019%20 latest.pdf
Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (2019d). Keputusan rasmi:pilihan raya kecil Parlimen P.165 Tanjung Piai, Johor. https://www.spr.gov.my/sites/default/files/keputusan% 20rasmi%20prk% 20tjg%20piai.jpg
Tey, Tsun Hang (2010). Malaysia’s electoral system: Government of the people? Asian Journal of Comparative Law, 5(1), 1-32.
Tokaji, D.P. (2008). Voter registration and election reform. William & Mary Bill of Rights, 17(2), 1-56.
Ufen, A. (2013). Introduction: The 2013 Malaysian elections: Business as usual of part of a protracted transition? Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 32(2), 3-17.
Wong, Chin Huat (2018). Constituency delimitation and electoral authoritarianism in Malaysia. The Round Table: The Commonweath Journal of International Affairs, 107(1), 67-80.