(KEADILAN)  set to make democratic reforms
Rahmah Ghazali | Jun 10, 09 12:20pm
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PKR is set to implement wholesome changes in the party which will see direct election of leaders by all members as well as limiting the term of the president to three terms or nine years.

For these to happen, the party will be calling an extraordinary national congress this Saturday to discuss and approve some amendments to its constitution. Once it is approved it will be implemented during the party elections next year.

PKR vice-president R Sivarasa told a press conference at the party headquarters this morning that these proposed changes reaffirmed the party’s commitment to democratic reform and change at the national level of politics.

“Such a step will also help reduce and eliminate any unhealthy tendencies towards money politics and phantom branches as we have seen in some political parties in Malaysia,” he said.

The biggest change to be implemented would be “to transfer and broaden the right to elect national leaders (including Youth and Women wings) from delegates at the national congress to ordinary members of the party who now number about 300,000”.

“This move is to strengthen the practice of democracy within the party and to move the party in line with practice in mature democracies.

pkr sivarasa pc 100609 02“If this amendment is approved, PKR will be the first large political party in Malaysia to allow its members to decide the national leadership,” he added.

Sivarasa (left) said that further changes to be implemented included strengthening democratic practice within the party by limiting the term of the president to three terms or nine years.

Apart from that the Youth wing was being revamped with an amendment to bring down the qualifying age to 35 years and below from the current limit of below 40 years.

“Its implementation, if approved, will however be staggered – with immediate effect for all appointed positions at all levels and overall implementation in the election year after the next i.e. is expected to be 2013 or earlier.

“This brings our Youth wing in line with internationally accepted standards for the definition of youth and to ensure that our youth wing leaders and membership reflect the aspirations of those 35 and below,” he said.

About 1500 out of 2400 delegates are expected to attend the extraordinary national congress in Bangi this Saturday but the debate sessions and passing the constitutional amendments are to be held closed-door.

Women take 30 percent

On the same note, Sivarasa also said that the party is looking at modifying the leadership structure to reflect their current role in national politics.

For example, he said, the number of vice-presidents will be increased from five to seven “so that there is more scope for representation”.

“Similar changes are being made for the Youth and Women’s wing. The state committees are also being modified for more flexibility,” he said.

To add to the changes, Sivarasa said, the party is planning to strengthen the leadership of women in the party with a new clause by implementing a policy to ensure that at least 30 percent of the leadership positions at all levels are occupied by women.

“Again, this will be ground-breaking as no other party has such an express committment, said Sivarasa, who also the head of party constitutional amendments committee.

Apart from that, the party is also looking at rebranding terms used in the party structure “to reflect terms that are progressive and more egalitarian” by moving away from terms associated with traditional party structures and feudal connotations.

“So ‘bahagian’ (division) will now be known as ‘cabang’ , ‘cawangan’ (branch) as ‘ranting’, ‘majlis pimpinan tertinggi’ (Supreme Council) as ‘majlis pimpinan pusat’ and ‘perhubungan negeri’ (liaison state) as ‘majlis pimpinan negeri’,” said Sivarasa.

Indelible ink may be considered

According to Sivarasa, the only challenge the new constitutional amendment will face would be in terms of logistics. However, this would be prevented by having national balloting at national levels.

But this would not be an ordinary vote-casting, added Sivarasa, as the party may introduce indelible ink ‘to show how an election is run properly’.

Meanwhile, PKR communications chief Johnson Chong clarified that the election process will not take place during the congress as it will be held much earlier.

“Then, we just take the ballots and count them and we will only announce the results during the congress,” said Chong.

sivarasa mic effingham school macc report 260309 01Although the members will have full rights to vote directly on their national leaders, the status quo of the delegates will still be maintained in the party, said Sivarasa.

“We still have delegates to attend the annual congress because having 300,000 members to come to the congress would not be practical.

“Every division still continues to send 12 delegates to the annual congress but the difference now is the rights electing national leaders would not be dependant just on them but on the members,” said Sivarasa.

He also added that ruling party Umno has also adopted the idea of having direct elections mainly “because they are forced to weed out money politics”.

Last May, Umno vice-president Hisammuddin Hussein revealed preliminary suggestions on amendments to Umno’s constitution for what he hoped will help transform the party towards being more accessible to the grassroots.

Among suggestions made were amendments to the party’s elections laws to allow the 3.4 million grassroots members to directly elect the party’s top leadership.

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