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Election Commission should withdraw its proposals for “sweeping changes” to election laws which it has submitted to the government and instead submit them  to an all-party  electoral reform conference for endorsement before presentation to Parliament


Media Statement (1)
by Lim Kit Siang  

, Friday): The Election Commission should withdraw its proposals for “sweeping changes” to election laws which it has submitted to the government and instead submit them  to an all-party electoral reform conference for in-depth discussion  before presentation to Parliament.

Election Commission Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said three days ago that the Election Commission has proposed sweeping changes to the election laws, including a ban on posters, banners and buntings, raising the threshold  for a recount of votes and the use of Internet and SMS to register voters.

Before the March 2004 general election, University Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (Ikmas) warned after a two-year study that   the Malaysian  electoral system and the Election Commission were facing a grave crisis of credibility,  legitimacy and confidence.

Unfortunately, the Election Commission did not take serious heed of Ikmas’ warning, resulting in a watershed crisis of confidence in the Election Commission when it conducted the most chaotic and disgraceful general election in March  2004, when it should be the cleanest and fault-free as the Election Commission was helmed by the nation’s foremost authority on election laws and procedures – Rashid himself who was the nation’s longest-serving Election Commission Secretary before he was appointed Chairman!

Now, the entire legitimacy and legality of the landslide victory of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Barisan Nasional in the March 2004 as well as the present government have been into doubt  as a result of Rashid’s statement that RM110 million had been spent on posters in the 2004 general election while RM3.5 million was spent on posters in the Pengkalan Pasir by-election – blatantly flouting election laws limiting election expenditures to prevent electoral abuses and corruption.

Another indication of how low the stocks of the Election Commission had fallen was the  impeachment motion against the Election Commission Chairman which  was introduced in Parliament for the first time in the nation’s history after the March 2004 general election - although my impeachment motion was arbitrarily struck out by the Speaker at the time, Tun Mohamad Zahir Ismail,  on the spurious ground of being sub judice of election appeals pending in election courts.

My  impeachment motion against the Election Commission had read:

 “That this House resolves to impeach the Chairman of the Election Commission Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman and the members of the Election Commission by passing a motion of no confidence on them for conducting the most disgraceful and chaotic general election in the 46-year history of the nation, rendering the recent March 2004 general election the most unfair, unfree and unclean of all 11 general elections in the country since Merdeka in 1957”.

If the Election Commission is to begin the painful process of restoring public confidence, it must be prepared to be evaluated in terms of its efficiency, effectiveness, professionalism, independence and integrity by the following nine bench-marks:

  1. End all gerrymandering in the redelineation of electoral constituencies by upholding the principle of “one man, one vote, one value”.
  2. Draw up a clean electoral roll, by removing the millions of  “phantom” voters on the electoral roll in a six-month clean-up operation involving the co-operation of all political parties.  
  3. Ensure a comprehensive and inclusive electoral roll with the highest possible percentage of eligible voters on the electoral register. The Election Commission should aim to register at least 90 per cent of all eligible voters  Furthermore, in the era of information technology, there is just no acceptable excuse why an eligible voter who registers at least one month before the polling day could not cast his or her vote in the next general election – when in the nineties, a voter in New Zealand could vote in a general election after registration 24 hours before the polling day.
  1. Ensure fair, free and clean election, as providing for meaningful monitoring of the voting process with regard to postal ballots by interested  candidates and political parties in all police and defence establishments used as polling stations.
  2. Prohibit unfair, dishonest and one-sided media coverage, whether print , radio or television during the election campaigns, including  “below-the-belt” and unethical cartoons, write-ups, broadcasts  and telecasts  and the “fear and scare” advertisements against the Opposition used  in past  general elections.
  1. Prohibit money politics, not only by candidates but also by political parties, and their excessive election expenditures.
  2. Prohibit abuse of government resources and funds during election campaigns.
  1. A Code of Conduct spelling out the do’s and don’ts of a caretaker government after dissolution of Parliament.
  2. The execution of “Akujanji” by the Election Commission Chairman, members and officers to conduct free, fair and clean elections; uphold and protect the independence, professionalism and integrity of the Election Commission and ensure ethical conduct as restraining serving personnel from accepting national or state awards, titles or other conferments which could compromise their independence, credibility and legitimacy.

Will  Rashid be able restore public confidence in the professionalism, independence and integrity of the Election Commission – starting with the convening of the first all-party conference in the past three decades. Why was the Election Commission able to convene all-party conferences on election matters in the first 25 years of nationhood but not in the second 25 years?


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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