Malaysia is a country that practices democracy in which elections play an important role to constitute a social contract between the people and the party. Election is very important to our country because it allow us putting into practice the principle of freedom of a citizen, that is, the freedom of people to choose the government. In Malaysia, general election will be held every 5 years or not later than 5 years. The first general election after the independence of Malaysia is held on August, 1959.
There are three types of general election in Malaysia. The first type general election is only held after the Parliament or the State Legislative Assembly is dissolved for the whole country. The second type is by-election. It only held at the death of a representative or member of the State Legislative Assemblyman or member of Parliamentary and the vacancy of the seat because of absenteeism from meetings for a fixed period of time. The last one is the local council election, but it abolished in 1990s.
The twelfth Malaysian General Election held on March 8, 2008. After the general election in 2008, it brings many effects to our country such as, changes in Perak, Penang, Kedah, Kelantan and Selangor.
Background of general election
As we know, Malaysia has held the general election for twelve terms. But Malaysia has never failed to hold general elections at regular intervals as stated in the constitution. Basically there are two levels are being elected by people which are the lower house of Parliamentary (House of Representatives) and State Legislative Assembly. Our government does not hold the elections to the Senate. The member of the Senate is appointed by the government and the others elected by the State Legislative Assemblies. General Election is held when the Yang di-Pertuan Agong dissolves the parliament on the advice or request from Prime Minister. The same thing at the state level which is the State Legislative Assembly is dissolved by the Yang Dipetua Negeri by taking advice from Chief Minister. General Election also will be held when the term of five years for the legislative ends.
The most important thing for election is the parties and candidates. The Barisan Nasional(BN) can be said that is the dominant coalition because it includes all of the parties which represent ethnic interests in Malaysia. BN tied Malays, Chinese, Indians and even the Bumiputras in Sabah and Sarawak, it can be said that it represents all ethnic group in Malaysia. Before 1974, BN's predecessor is the Alliance. This party won the two-third majority seat in every general election after independence of Malaysia. The opposition parties can be said that are mainly communal-based. This is because their membership is largely from a particular race although they want to be multi-races. For instances, the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) is a Malays majority party. And the Democratic Action Party (DAP) is a Chinese majority party.
The next general election after the 11th general election in 2004 was held on 8, March 2008. Before the general election, dissolution of the parliament occurred on the 13th February 2008 by Yang di-Pertuan Agong by taking advice from our Prime Minister, Dato Sri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. State Legislative Assemblies of all state will be dissolved and hold the election at the same time as election for Parliamentary except for Sarawak state assmbly as its five years for legislative expires at 2011 .And the following day, Election Commision (EC) announced the nomination day will be held on 24 February and polling day is on 8 March. Basically the Election Commision has three main functions which are review the borders of parliamantary and state constituencies, update and check the voter's list for the elections and in charge of election process at polling centres nationwide.
On the nomination day, EC will set the polling centres to allow the candidates register themselves. The candidates can be register as a party's candidate and also register as individual candidates. They have to pay RM10,000.00 as a deposit for contesting for the parliamentary seat and RM5,000.00 for the State Assembly seat while they are filling the nomination form. A lawyer is allowed to accompany the candidates to help the candidates fill in the nomination papers correctly.
The EC announced the campaigning is only taking place for 13 days which started right after the nomination and ends at 7 March midnight 12.00am. There are three new seats in the Parliamentary from Sarawak which are Igan, Sibuti and Limbang, so total of Parliamentary for general election 2008 is 222.
Campaigning is the reprentatives candidates of the parties will give their manifesto during the political talk or speech to the public. They also will their banners and posters of their particular parties at the roadside and building. This is to convince the people to vote for them.
On the voting day, every citizen who are qualified have the right to vote the candidate that they think he or she can represent them in parliament or state at the specialized polling centres set by Election Commission. As a qualified voter, he or she must be on reaching the age of 21 on the qualifying date and resides in an election division on the qualifying date or if not residing is considered as absentee voter. Besides this, the voter's name must appear on the electoral list.
The voting day normally set in three week time after the nomination of candidates. Public centre, schools and government building can be a polling centres and the voting process is carried out at tht place. Each qualified voter are given two ballot paper on the elections day which are for the House of Representatives and State Legislative Assembly respectively. The voter can actually choose the candidates who can represent them and mark a X against the name of any other candidates on the ballot paper. After that, both of the paper will put in the different ballot boxes separetely. For non- residing voter like oversea student, they can vote by post.
After the voting process is finished, the counting process will be done right after. The ballot papers are put back into the ballot boxes and sealed after counting. The boxes are sent to main polling centres after this. If the votes are gained by the two different candidates is very near, the re-count will do again at the main polling centre. The result of the elections will be announced at night on the same day as long as everything is done.