Election Commission should set up a special task force to monitor the “media coverage” for all contesting parties in  the Pendang and Anak Bukit by-elections, issuing a daily  report on their  fairness and making legislative proposals to ensure “fair media coverage” in Malaysian  elections

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Monday): When announcing July 10 and July 18 as the nomination and polling dates for the Pendang parliamentary and Anak Bukit state assembly by-elections in Kedah on Saturday, the Election Commission Chairman Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman made a special plea to the media calling for “fair coverage for all parties which are contesting”, stressing that the success of the by-elections depends on the co-operation of all parties. 

The Election Commission should not be making pious pleas about fair media coverage in the two by-elections when going by the record of past media coverage, particularly the electronic media of radio and television, the Pendang and Anak Bukit by-elections should see some of the worst excesses of media exploitation in the history of elections in the country.  The question is what the Election Commission doing about such media excesses and abuses. 

No other person in the country  has had a longer history and more experience than Rashid  in handling elections in Malaysia, as before being appointed Election Commission Chairman he had previously served as the Secretary of the Election Commission for more than two decades and been involved in three Parliamentary general elections and 12 state general elections in the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak.  

There will be very few Malaysians who could  match Rashid’s understanding  that the biggest blots of the Malaysian election system preventing it from being  able to hold its head high internationally as a free, fair and clean election system are the “3M” abuses –  money, media and government machinery. 

The Election Commission is entrusted by the Malaysian Constitution to “conduct  elections” to Parliament and the State Assemblies, which can only mean free, fair and clean elections.  It is a serious dereliction of duty of  the Election Commission that it  had failed to take effective measures for more than  four decades to ensure that elections in Malaysia  are free, fair and clean and liberated from the 3M abuses. 

It is no use the Election Commission Chairman making a statement expressing the pious hope that the media would give fair coverage, when the Election Commission  should be taking pro-active measures to create the environment for fair media coverage during elections.

For a start, the Election Commission should set up a special task force to monitor the “media coverage” for all contesting parties in  the Pendang and Anak Bukit by-elections, in particular radio and television coverage,  issuing a daily  report on whether there had been “fair media coverage” in the two by-elections and making legislative proposals after the by-elections to ensure “fair media coverage” in elections. 

The Election Offences Amendment Bill 2002 had been withdrawn from second and third reading in the recent parliamentary meeting and deferred to the September Parliament.  

Media abuses and exploitations in the two by-elections should  be used as object lessons to introduce amendments to the Election Offences Amendment Bill 2002 to regulate and control  unfair media coverage  in the battle against one of the 3M “black-eyes” of the Malaysian election system.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman