By Bob Teoh, missionary and poll watcher
YOU might have come across fellow-Christians arguing animatedly about politics only to find out that more often than not, they have not even bothered to register to vote. Such opinions count for little. What grounds does someone who refuses to participate in forming the government have for complaining that the government has failed him or her? There are over four million such people who are not registered as voters. Are you one of them?
If so, you are responsible for the worse form of government; the one you didn't elect and the one others have to put up with. Worse still, people who are not entitled to vote may be voting on your behalf - non-citizens who have somehow been registered on the country's electoral roll.
Some of us have excuses like "The system can't be trusted," or "Neither side is worth voting for, both are just as bad". These remain excuses, a bad testimony of our Christian citizenry.
Romans 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.(NIV)
God, in His sovereignty, has allowed Malaysia to be governed through a general mandate of the people once every five years. God has also instituted authorities to govern with justice and righteousness (Amos 5:24).
You have no choice nor excuse but to exercise this mandate to put the governing authorities in place. Morally-speaking, how can one be subject to such authority when one has opted out of the mandating process by not registering to vote, or not voting?
One in ten voters is presumably a Christian. This is a strategic block of ten percent of the total votes. Winners in an election can be decided by just a small percentage swing.
Most people did not believe their votes counted for anything until they saw the results of their collective will in the 2008 General Elections. The ruling coalition lost its two-third majority and thus its ability to amend the Federal Constitution at will. Ours is perhaps the most frequently amended Constitution with some 700 changes made over the past 50 years. The bulldozing of amendments without check and balance, especially of laws which give cabinet ministers absolute discretion, has given rise to governance through extra-judicial powers.
The federal opposition also won five states. This is also unprecedented. But it happened because individuals exercised their votes. That solitary vote in your hand will make a difference to you, your children and their children.
A case in point is Ba' Kelalan in Sarawak, one of the smallest state constituencies (6,958 registered voters) and a stronghold of the ruling coalition. The constituency is considered the Bible Belt of Malaysia and has witnessed extraordinary revivals in the past.
Baru Bian, a Lun Bawang lawyer, church leader, native land rights activist and a pastor's son, decided to stand for elections here, his home village, as part of his extended ministry in the April 2011 state elections. He had lost twice in previous attempts but this year, he won by just a ten percent swing or 478 votes. Voter demographics had shifted in his favour because some of the young people decided to register as voters.
It is estimated that about 70 percent of the four million people who are entitled to vote but have not registered are between 21 and 35-years old. Electoral demographics will be altered further to reflect a more youthful profile if more of the unregistered four million register.
If you are one of the four million fence-sitters, register now as a voter. You will then have a part in fulfilling the Bible's mandate for citizens and authorities.