Idiot's Guide Election Fever 2008

For the uninitiated, these are the basics of the Malaysian general election:

# Malaysia must have its general election within 5 years from the previous general election. So, once a general election is held, the next one must be within 5 years.

# In Malaysian elections whichever candidate who gets the most votes win. This is called "first-past-the-post system". This is not a very fair system because even if a candidate wins less than 50% of the total votes but his votes is the highest amongst the other candidates, he still wins.

# There are 2 types of political seats in Malaysia - Parliamentary seats and state seats. There are a total of 222 parliamentary seats and 505 state seats up for grabs. Those who win the parliamentary seats are called Members Of Parliament (MPs) and those who win state seats are called State Assemblymen. Note that the number of state seats varies according to the size of the state and its population i.e. some states have more seats, and some states have less.

# Members of Parliament(MPs) sit in parliament and make laws affecting the whole country. State Assemblymen, on the other hand, sit in the state legislative assembly make laws affecting the state.

# The party (or coalition) with the most number of seats in parliament forms the federal government and the party (or coalition) with the most number of state seats forms the state government.

# The head of the federal govenment is the Prime Minister and the head of the state is the Menteri Besar (for states with Sultans) and Chief Minister (for states without Sultans).

# The Prime Minister appoints his cabinet ministers and the Menteri Besar or Chief Minister appoint the state executive councillors.

# Any Malaysian citizen over 21 years old, living in the country, is of sound mind, is not convicted of an offence and is not an undischarged bankrupt can stand as a candidate. If he /she belongs to a political party, that party can nominate him as its candidate for a specified seat. Alternatively, he can also stand as an independent.

# Candidates for a parliamentary seat have to put up an RM10,000 deposit and those for a state seat, one of RM5,000. This is returned to them after the voting day, if a candidate gets at least one-eighth of the total votes cast. In addition, those contesting parliamentary and state seats are required to put up another RM5,000 and RM3,000 respectively. They will get this back if they remove all posters and banners within 14 days from the voting day.

# A person must be 21 years old and above, a Malaysian citizen and registered as a voter with the Election Commission (EC) before he / she can vote. Voters can check if they are on the electoral roll by going to

# On election day, voters should go to their respective polling centres and will allowed to enter once their identities have been confirmed.

# A person voting will be given 2 ballot papers (only 1 ballot paper if voting in KL, Putrajaya or Labuan), which bear the names and symbols of each candidate. Voting is secret and he should put an "X" against the name of the candidate he supports on the ballot paper(s) - he / she must put an "X" against the name of only one candidate on each ballot paper.

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