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

Media Statement
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: 

  1. Draw up a clean electoral roll, by removing the some three million “phantom” voters on the electoral roll in a six-month clean-up operation involving the co-operation of all political parties.  The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir and his deputy, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had said  that they have proof of  at least 2.8 million “phantom” voters.  It is a blot on the independence, professionalism and integrity of the Election Commission that some 30 per cent of the electoral roll of some 10 million voters are “phantom voters” with no residential or  work relationships with the constituency he or she is registered to vote and it is not prepared to do anything about it.
  1. Ensure a comprehensive and inclusive electoral roll with the highest possible percentage of eligible voters on the electoral register. Wan Ahmad said there are 1.5 million Malaysians aged between 21 and 30 who had yet to register as voters.  Together with eligible voters above 30 years who have not registered as voters, there are easily some two million voters in the country  who have not registered themselves on the electoral roll. This is most outrageous.  The Election Commission should aim to register at least 90 per cent of the two  million unregistered voters in the next six months.  Furthermore, in the era of information technology, there is just no acceptable excuse why an eligible voter who registers at least one month before the polling day could not  cast his or her vote in the next general election – when in New Zealand a voter could vote in a general election after registration 24 hours before the polling day.
  1. Ensure fair, free and clean election, as providing for meaningful monitoring of the voting process with regard to postal ballots by interested  candidates and political parties in all police and defence establishments used as polling stations.
  1. Prohibit unfair, dishonest and one-sided media coverage, whether print , radio or television during the election campaigns, so that the “below-the-belt” and unethical cartoons, write-ups, broadcasts  and telecasts against the Opposition  in the 1999 general election would be things of the past.
  1. Prohibit money politics, not only by candidates but also by political parties, and their excessive election expenditures.
  1. Prohibit abuse of government resources and funds during election campaigns.
  1. A Code of Conduct spelling out the do’s and don’ts of a caretaker government after dissolution of Parliament.
  1. The execution of “Akujanji” by the Election Commission Chairman, members and officers to conduct free, fair and clean elections  and to uphold and protect the independence, professionalism and integrity of the Election Commission.

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