Election Commission Chairman, members and officers should first set an example by signing a pledge or “Akujanji” to conduct free, fair and clean elections before requiring candidates and political parties to sign Akujanji pledges

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Friday): The Election Commission has called for a meeting with all political parties  next Thursday (May 22) on three proposals to be tabled at the next parliamentary meeting next month, including one which makes it compulsory for candidates to sign a pledge or “Akujanji” to ensure smooth and incident-free campaigning before contesting in the election.  (NST 14.5.03) 

The Election Commission Chairman, members and officers should first set an example by signing an “Akujanji” pledging to conduct free, fair and clean elections before requiring candidates and even political parties to sign Akujanji pledges. 

There should be a mechanism where the Election Commission Chairman, members and officers could be publicly called to account if they fail this “Akujanji” pledge to conduct free, fair and clean elections, in particular in the following areas: 

  • An efficient system of registration of eligible voters on the electoral roll bearing in mind  the scandalous record  of the Election Commission before the 1999 general election  in disenfranchising 680,000  new  voters although they had registered for some 10 months earlier.  Every eligible voter who register at least one month before the polling day should be able to cast his or her vote in the era of information technology.
  • The clean-up of some three million phantom voters on the electoral register by before the next general election to ensure that only those who have residential or  work relationship with  a constituency can be a voter to elect the MP or State  Assembly member of that particular constituency.  With the co-operation of all political parties, NGOs and the civil society, there is no reason or excuse why the Election Commission cannot clean up the electoral register of “phantom voters” who have neither residential  nor employment  relationship  in a constituency he or she is registered as a voter in a three-month campaign.
  • A free, fair and clean election campaign – to ensure the end of the tyranny of 3M politics, i.e. the abuses of media, money  and government machinery, which had marred the integrity and legitimacy of previous election campaigns.

Election Commission secretary Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said that candidates who breached the “Akujanji” by resorting to unhealthy practices, including aggressive campaigning, may be disqualified. 

If the Election Commission is serious in wanting to ensure free, fair and clean election campaigns, the “Akujanji” pledge proposed for candidates should be comprehensive enough to provide for  the disqualification of candidates who either directly or through their agents or political parties are involved in  unfair electoral  practices like money politics , abuse of government machinery and resources, and unfair media practices. 

For instance, when Parliament stands dissolved during a general election and there is only a care-taker government, Cabinet Ministers should not abuse government positions, machinery, resources and funds for any electioneering purpose for a political party.  A candidate who benefits from any  such “unhealthy” and dishonest practices, as campaigning assistance by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or Cabinet Minister through the abuse of  their government positions or misuse of public funds and resources, should be subject to disqualification. 

Is the Election Commission prepared to ensure that the “Akujanji” it has formulated for candidates are wide enough to cover the most blatant forms of dishonest and unhealthy electoral practices, apart from drawing up an “Akujanji” code for the Election Commission Chairman,  members and officers themselves?  


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman