Monday, May 16, 2022

Party leaders must ensure that elections do not threaten stability, says Perak ruler

Sultan Nazrin Shah says a stable, peaceful and prosperous nation should never be jeopardised by political approaches that sever relationships and friendships.

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The leaders of political parties are responsible for ensuring that elections do not become a battlefield that can threaten the country’s stability and affect the harmony among the people, Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Shah said today.

He said sensational issues that ignite racial disharmony and religious sentiments, raised during campaigns to gain votes, would complicate efforts to create unity. He said it would instead divide the people and strain the relationship among people from various backgrounds, adding that this would nullify efforts to build a stable, peaceful and prosperous nation.

“A stable, peaceful and prosperous nation is of greater value and should never be dissolved by adopting a political approach that severs relationships and friendships, and in the end, nobody wins,” he said an event in Kuala Lumpur today.

The Perak ruler said choosing a government through an election is a serious matter as the fate of the people and country depends on those who are given the mandate to form a government. Therefore, he added, voting must be based on rational thinking going by facts, not sentiments and emotions.

He also said that a free and fair election allows the people, parties, candidates and the media to enjoy their basic human rights involving freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of movement and assembly, in addition to freedom from intimidation, pressure and violence as well as the right to have access to information and media facilities.

The ruler said free and fair elections would not only increase people’s confidence and participation but are also an international standard on the level of observance of human rights for each citizen.

“The way an election is conducted also reflects the level of thinking, intellect, maturity, respect for the constitution and the rule of law as well as the level of integrity, sincerity and the practice of transparency in the administration of a country,” said Sultan Nazrin.

He said the Election Commission (EC) was like a referee handling competitions among candidates and political parties during an election, adding that it must remain neutral.

“To ensure the sovereignty and honour of the government remain intact, as the body appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the EC must uphold its pledge of loyalty by managing elections in a credible, free and fair and impartial manner and practising undisputed equality and transparency,” he added.

On the lowering of the voting age to 18, Sultan Nazrin said the move should be interpreted as an opportunity that gives greater power to young people to choose their leaders and shape the government.

He said young people should be guided to a level of political literacy where they can understand the meaning and practice of a healthy democracy, the government system, the administrative system, the government formation process and the elements that leaders should have.

According to him, more than seven million young individuals will be registered automatically as new voters at the 15th general election, a 50% increase from the number of registered voters in the 14th general election, following the move to lower the voting age.

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