MALAYSIA: Last Saturday (13 January), nearly 20 million voters participated in the Presidential Election and Legislative Yuan elections in Taiwan.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secured a historic third consecutive presidential victory, with Lai Ching-te, the current vice president of Taiwan, emerging victorious.
Lai won with over 40% of the vote share, surpassing Kuomintang candidate Hou Yu-ih, who garnered 33.49% of the total votes, and Taiwan People’s Party candidate Ko Wen-je, who secured 26.46% of the national vote, slightly exceeding initial expectations.
In the Legislative Yuan elections, the DPP won 51 seats, the Kuomintang (KMT) secured 52 seats, and the Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) gained eight seats in the 113-seat body. This marks the first time since 2004 that none of the parties secured a majority.
Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz, the new Chairman of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) from Malaysia, expressed his views on the Taiwan election in a Saturday opinion piece on Malaysian media Berita Harian.
He emphasized that Malaysia can learn valuable lessons from Taiwan’s election.
In the 2020 Presidential Election, DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen secured victory with 57.13% of the votes, repeating her success from 2016 when she received 56.12% of the votes.
The same goes for the previous Legislative Yuan elections in which the DPP successfully secured more than 50% of parliamentary seats.
Mr Faisal acknowledged that the current election undoubtedly poses a challenge for the DPP, and It is not denied that there is a certain influence attempting to sway the voting there.
Among the strong factors mentioned influencing Taiwanese politics is addressing issues of foreign relations, especially involving the influence of China and the United States (US).
Central to the discourse is the observation that enhanced democratization efforts will foster maturity among the people of Taiwan, empowering them to make informed decisions in selecting a new government freely, said Mr Faisal.
Mr Faisal underscored an intriguing aspect gleaned from the Taiwanese election: a commitment to maturing democratic values through their election process.
Open debates for presidential candidates
He emphasized the requisite participation of presidential candidates in open debates. Regarding the presentation of presidential policies, candidates are mandated to openly present them in three rounds.
Mr Faisal said these open debates depict the maturity of democratic practices, where issues of the people and policies become the foundation for selecting leaders.
“It also serves as a platform for the people to delve into information regarding good policy choices for the country. It provides an opportunity for the people to examine government policies directly related to their daily lives.”
Mr Faisal highlighted Taiwan’s adoption of a Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP) Parliament system, designed to ensure a more comprehensive representation of citizens in Parliament.
With a total of 113 parliamentary seats, six seats are specifically allocated to indigenous people, three for the flatland indigenous and three for the mountain indigenous.
Additionally, 34 parliamentary seats come from the Party List, which is based on support for the competing parties. The rest are based on constituency-based parliamentary seats.
Regulated political funding for parties for election campaign
He also highlighted that Taiwan has political funding laws to allow parties to receive a certain amount of money from the government for campaigning and competing.
“Among the formulas used is providing subsidies to candidates if their votes reach a certain level of support.”
“At the same time, any contributor to political parties must be disclosed. ”
He added that Taiwan’s election committee enforces a 10-day cooling-off period before the polling date, preventing the publication of election-related surveys.
This measure aims to provide citizens with the space to make decisions based on their own perspectives, free from the influence of political findings.
“Taking cues from the development of open election policies in Taiwan, there are interesting aspects for Malaysia to learn. Elections are not just about voting but understanding why they vote, ” said Mr Faisal.
He emphasised that voting becomes a necessity based on the awareness that the chosen candidate is the best when all information is successfully synthesized to ensure the country’s future is at its best.
“Certainly, choices must be made with careful consideration after utilizing all the election facilities provided to them. Perhaps there are lessons that Malaysia can take from the electoral journey in Taiwan.”
In September last year, Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Minister, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said announced government announced the government’s contemplation of enacting a Political Financing Bill.
Seven policy parameters were subsequently referred to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) in Human Rights, Election, and Institutional Reform for thorough consideration.
Bersih, in a statement, expressed its appreciation for the Malaysian government’s proactive initiative and expressed hope that the forthcoming Act would incorporate a provision for public funding of political parties.
This inclusion would not only regulate the mechanisms by which parties acquire their funding but also establish a framework for public funding based on their respective vote shares in the previous election.
Additionally, Bersih advocates for the incorporation of a special fund within the Act to support political parties in increasing the representation of women in Parliament.
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