Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 17th May 2010:
Call for public inquiry into the two-and-a-half hour delay in announcing the results of the Sibu by-election last night
The Election Commission has blamed DAP for the delay in tallying the results of the postal voting in Sibu denying that it had wanted to manipulate the outcome in favour of the Barisan Nasional.
However, the Election Commission has not been able to give full and satisfactory explanation for the two-and-a-half hour delay in the announcement of the Sibu results which was the cause of a twitter offensive by me last night, viz:
At about 8.30 pm SUPP and BN leaders knew that from the counting of the votes, they had lost the Sibu parliamentary by-election and this was why SUPP and BN leaders left the Civic Centre Counting Centre – which I tweeted shortly after.
Why was the announcement of the Sibu by-election result held up for two-and-a-half hours, after the postal ballots had been counted from 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm?
Could the Election Commission blame anyone, including the increasing numbers of outraged Sibuans, for their concern and worry that some plans were afoot to disregard their choice of MP after an intensive by-election campaign?
When I went up to the 9th floor of Sanyan Bldg where the postal ballot counting was held, together with DAP Secretary-General Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Pakatan Rakyat MPs and State Assembly representatives, at about 9.35 pm to find out the cause of the unusual delay, the deadlock seemed unbreakable.
This was when I tweeted first with the query as to the reason for the delay in the announcement of the results and whether somebody was “Up 2some trick?”.
My second tweet five minutes later pointedly asked whether there was any attempt to “steal” the Sibu by-election from the people of Sibu.
It was very difficult to tweet from the 9th floor Sanyan Bldg and I decided to go down to the ground floor (for easier mobile Internet access) to tweet. It was then I found the Sanyan Bldg in darkness as there was a blackout of all times, and the counting centre was operating on standby generator!
In the next 21 minutes, I sent four tweets saying that Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia and the world were watching whether there was going to be an Election Commission scandal because the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak did not want to admit defeat; asking Najib to speak up whether he was party to the “extraordinary delay” in the announcement; and asking Najib whether he accepted the verdict of the people of Sibu to freely and democratically elect Wong Ho Leng as the MP for Sibu.
I stressed that Najib’s “credentials as a democrat” was on the line. I also asked all Barisan Nasional Ministers and parties to take a stand whether they accept and respect the verdict of the people of Sibu and would not be a party to any fraud.
It was after this tweet offensive that things moved with speed although it was close to 11 pm when the Returning Officer finally announced that Ho Leng had been elected with a majority of 398 votes.
I do not believe that Najib was involved in any attempt to manipulate the Sibu by-election results but he is responsible as Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional Chairman to ensure that his subordinates in SUPP and Sarawak BN do not conduct themselves in any fashion giving rise to such suspicions.
The two-and-a-half hour delay in the announcement of the by-election results should never have happened. I call on the Cabinet on Wednesday to hold a public inquiry on the causes of the two-and-a-half hour delay in announcing the results of the Sibu by-election last night.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor