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Elections Commission (EC) has proven that it is not an independent institution able to conduct free, fair, neutral and clean elections by taking orders from Cabinet that voters using old identity cards not be removed from electoral lists but be allowed to vote in the next general elections


Speech At BERSIH People’s Convention  

by Lim Guan Eng



(Petaling Jaya, Friday): EC has proven that it is not an independent institution able to conduct free, fair, neutral and clean elections by taking orders from Cabinet, that voters using old identity cards not be removed from electoral lists but be allowed to vote in the next general elections. In today’s New Straits Times, the EC Secretary Datuk Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor said since the Cabinet had overruled it, the EC would abide by the cabinet’s stand that voters using the old identity card be allowed to vote in the next general election.

Datuk Kamaruzaman made the most surprising statement that, "We had hoped that it would spur people to change to MyKad as it would help us standardise the electoral roll." DAP wishes to remind the EC that its role under Article 113 of the Federal Constitution is to conduct elections and prepare and revise electoral rolls for such elections, not do the job of the Registration Department to encourage people to change to MyKad.

Perkara 113. Penjalanan pilihan raya

(1) Maka hendaklah ada suatu Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya yang hendaklah ditubuhkan mengikut Perkara 114, yang, tertakluk kepada peruntukan undang-undang persekutuan, hendaklah menjalankan pilihan raya ke Dewan Rakyat dan Dewan-Dewan Undangan Negeri dan menyediakan dan menyemak daftar pemilih bagi pilihan raya itu. 

By taking directives from Cabinet, EC has shown that it is no longer independent when its powers derive not from Cabinet but directly from the Federal Constitution being appointed by the King after consultation with the Conference of Rulers. Clearly taking orders from Cabinet when it is a separate institution has demonstrated that is not deserving of public confidence that it can conduct free, fair, neutral and clean elections. This is contrary to Article 114(1) of the Federal Constitution that the EC must gain public confidence.

Perkara 114. Keanggotaan Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya


(1) Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya hendaklah dilantik oleh Yang di-Pertuan Agong selepas berunding dengan Majlis Raja-Raja, dan hendaklah terdiri daripada seorang pengerusi, seorang timbalan pengerusi dan lima orang anggota lain.

(2) Pada melantik anggota Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya, Yang di-Pertuan Agong hendaklah mengambil perhatian tentang peri mustahaknya suatu Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya yang mendapat kepercayaan awam.

The EC should publicly apologise for attempting to remove voters who have not changed their old identity cards to MyKad from the electoral roll. DAP had strenuously opposed such moves as it violated our constitutional rights as a citizen to vote. If a Malaysian can be deprived of his right to vote just because he had not changed to a MyKad, the implication is that our citizenship rights can also be revoked for the same reasons.  

How can the old IC not be acceptable when in the past, even a temporary receipt of a lost IC endorsed by the Registration Department is accepted by the EC as a valid confirmation of identity and a right to vote?  Previously the EC had warned that 84,000 voters who have not changed into MyKad would lose their rights to vote. What right has the EC to remove their right to vote when their old identity card is still a valid document?

Why no action taken against the then Director of Selangor Elections Commission and Deputy Chairman of the EC Datuk Haji Wan Ahmad Wan Omar?

DAP demands that the Election Commission reveal actions taken against officials responsible for the Selangor Debacle in the 2004 general election where many voters could not find their names and lost their right to vote, since the Election Commission(EC)  had placed the blame squarely on the then State Director of Elections for Selangor.  

In the Election Commission Report on the 2004 General Elections (pg 135), the Commission admitted that “During the election, instances of confusion were recorded from several polling centres in the Klang Valley, Selangor particularly in the early hours of polling. This was due to difficulties faced by election workers in checking the names of voters in the electoral roll before voting. This confusion was the result of the decision made by the State Director of Elections, Selangor to open new polling centres in 16 polling districts in the Klang Valley.”  

And, as a result, according to the Report (pg. 135-6), “the Election Commission received feedback from various Returning Officers that there was congestion at several polling centres in Selangor. Based on reports from Returning Officers, many voters expected could not easily identify their polling centres and therefore might lose their opportunity to vote. To enable the affected voters to cast their vote in the afternoon, ECM decided to extend polling by two hours throughout Selangor.” (EC Report 2004 Pg. 135-6) 

[Malay version] [Pg. 62 Kekecohan di Selangor] [Kekecohan yang belaku di 60 pusat mengundi di kawasan Lembah Kelang, Selangor di sepanjang pagi hari mengundi adalah disebabkan berlaku kelemahan petugas-petugas yang menyemak buku daftar pemilih sebelum pengudian. Ia berlaku disebabkan tindakan Pengarah Pilihan Raya Negeri Selangor membuka 60 buah pusat mengundi baru di dalam 16 daerah mengundi khususnya di dalam kawasan Lembah Kelang. Keputusan yang dibuat secara bersendirian selepas pembubaran Parlimen dan Dewan Undangan Negeri nyata telah menyumbang kepada kekecohan yang berlaku di kawasan-kawasan yang terbabit. ] 

[Malay version] [pg. 63 Penambahan Masa 2 Jam bagi Negeri Selangor] [SPR telah menerima maklumbalas daripada Pegawai-Pegawai Pengurus dan orang ramai berhubungan dengan kesesakan di sesetengah pusat mengundi di Selangor akibat masalah yang diterangkan di para awal. Daripada laporan oleh Pegawai-Pegawai Pengurus yang terlibat di pusat mengundi di mana berlakunya kekecohan, beribu-ribu pemilih didapati tidak dapat mengesan pusat mengundi mereka dan dikira telah terlepas peluang untuk mengundi. Bagi tujuan memberikan peluang kepada pengundi-pengundi berkenaan membuang undi pada sebelah petang, SPR mendapati wajar tempoh masa pengundian bagi seluruh Negeri Selangor dilanjukan selama 2 jam lagi.] 

Malaysians, in particular Selangor voters, deserve an answer from the EC whether any action was taken against the named official. Further, whether any action was taken against his immediate superior, namely the then EC’s Secretary and current Deputy Chairman of the EC, Datuk Haji Wan Ahmad Wan Omar. It is entirely unacceptable to have officials responsible for the unprecedented electoral mess be let off scot-free.

Abolish Postal Votes 

One of BERSIH’s immediate objectives is to call for the abolition of postal voting except for diplomats and overseas voters, as accountability and secrecy are heavily undermined in current practices.  For instance, it is hard to imagine that there are more than 5100 postal voters in Bukit Bintang parliamentary constituency. Do we actually have that many policemen patrolling the streets of Kuala Lumpur?  

At the very least, the Election Commission must allow polling agents from contesting parties monitor the entire process of postal voting. And, except for those on active duty on polling day, army and police personnel should be required to vote in polling centres like other voters. Also, spouses of army and police personnel should vote as ordinary members of public, not as postal voters.

21-day campaigning period 

The DAP would also like to express our support for BERSIH’s agenda for a fixed campaign period of minimum of 21 days or three weeks. The 2004 general election saw the shortest ever campaigning period in Malaysia’s electoral history, i.e. 7 ˝ day. It is unacceptable and utterly unfair not only for members of the Opposition but also Malaysians because they were not given sufficient time to make an informed choice.   

The rationale to call for a 21-day period is simple. In Malaya’s first ever federal elections in 1955, the campaigning period was 42 days. Malaysians now ask for only half of that amount of time to make an informed choice for a healthier democracy. There is no reason why the Election Commission cannot adhere to this particular wish of all Malaysians who care for democracy, good governance, transparency and integrity.   

Finally the EC no longer upholds the underlying principle of democracy “one-man, one-vote”. How can Putrajaya with 5079 voters be granted status of a Parliamentary seat as compared with Kapar Parliamentary seat 104,185 voters? The EC should seek the restoration of the Merdeka 1957 provision that the variance of voters between Parliamentary constituencies should not exceed 15% and not 2000%, as it is happening now.



* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP

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