Invitation to all political parties, both government and opposition, to take a joint common stand on Thursday to demand that the Election Commission stop wasting time and resources on trifles like poster/banner monitoring squads and focus on its primary constitutional duties to conduct free, fair and clean elections
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Monday): I have written to the Chairman/President and Secretary of all political parties in the country, those in the Barisan Nasional and outside, proposing that all political parties take a joint common stand on Thursday to demand that the Election Commission stop wasting time and resources on less essential and even trivial matters like poster/banner monitoring squads and focus on its primary constitutional duties to conduct free, fair and clean elections.
The Election Commission has called for a meeting with all political parties on Thursday 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.
Election Commission secretary Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said on Saturday that an election monitoring squad will be set up for each of the parliamentary constituencies to monitor polling day and campaigns during elections.
The squad, equipped with two four-wheel-drive vehicles, would include commission officials, candidates and representatives from the police and local authorities, to move around the constituency during the campaigning period to ensure all candidates adhere to the stipulated legislation and by-laws.
The squad would be empowered to stop any activity which contravenes the law and take action against the offenders. It would be assigned to immediately remove banners or posters displayed at unauthorised areas and stop campaigners who give political speeches after the stipulated time. (Sunday Star)
This is one of the most ridiculous proposals to come out of the Election Commission, not just because no candidate in any election would be so free as to be tied down in such a squad but because of the Election Commission’s total misconstruction of its constitutional mandate and what should be its primary responsibilities.
Something is very wrong about the Election Commission’s sense of priorities and its understanding of its constitutional mandate and responsibilities when it regards posters and banners as more important than the scandal of three million “phantom voters” who represent some 30 per cent of the total registered electorate, two million eligible voters but who are not on the electoral register and could not exercise their constitutional right to vote in an election, electoral abuses such as money politics, corrupt misuse of public resources and unfair media.
In my letter to the Chairmen/Presidents and Secretaries of other political parties, I proposed that that all political parties in Malaysia create history by taking a joint common stand to ask Election Commission to first accomplish the following eight tasks before coming out with fanciful ideas like the poster/banner monitoring squads:
All political parties, whether Barisan Nasional or opposition, should be able to put aside their political differences and take a common stand to demand that the Election Commission focuses its energies, time and resources on its primary responsibilities to conduct free, fair and clean elections to ensure public confidence in the independence, professionalism and integrity of the Election Commission and the legitimacy of the electoral process.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman