Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 13th February 2009:
Polling dates for Bukit Gantang/Bukit Selambau by-elections – another example of craven subservience of Election Commission to serve Umno interests
The Election Commission has provided another example of its craven subservience to serve Umno interests in fixing the simultaneous nomination and polling dates for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in Perak and the Bukit Selambau state assembly seat in Kedah on March 29 and April 7 respectively.
Clearly, the fractious and internecine Umno party elections until March 28 had been the primary consideration of the Election Commission when deciding on the two by-election dates, so that the by-election campaign for the two constituencies will be held after the Umno party elections and Datuk Seri Najib Razak has officially taken over UMNO and become the sixth Prime Minister of Malaysia.
But these are the very considerations which an independent and self-respecting Election Commission has no business to take into account when fixing election dates, as it has only reinforced strong public perceptions that the Election Commission is a mere Umno creature at the beck-and-call of the top Umno leadership.
The Election Commission has made dubious history in the fixing of the election dates for the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections, stretching to the constitutional limit of the 60 days when they should be filled from the date of vacancy.
The by-elections of the Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau constituencies will be held on the 57th day from their vacancy, as compared to the 27th day for the Permatang Pauh by-election and the 51st day for the Kuala Terengganu by-election.
In his six weeks as the new Election Commission Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof had taken two decisions which have further undermined public confidence in the independence, professionalism and integrity of the Election Commission as they clearly serve Umno's political agenda – the unconstitutional rejection of the Perak Speaker's decision on the resignation of two PKR state assemblymen/executive councilors resulting in two state assembly vacancies (facilitating Najib's illegal and unconstitutional grab for power in Perak) and today's decision to fix the by-election dates calculated to best serve the political interests of Umno.
The Election Commission should reconsider to fix earlier by-election dates to demonstrate that it is not beholden to any political party's dictates – even coming from Umno
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor