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The Elections Commission(EC) can never be independent, fair, free and neutral as long as elections laws are not enforced against BN candidates exceeding the spending limit of RM 88.3 Million in the 2004 General Elections

 


Press Conference

by Lim Guan Eng


 

(Parliament, Thursday): Electoral reform with laws but without enforcement is no different from the Elections Commission sanctioning cheating and money politics to pervert the choice of voters. The EC can never be independent, fair, free and neutral as long as elections laws are not enforced against BN candidates spending RM 110 million far exceeding the spending limit of RM 88.3 million in the 2004 general elections.

By failing to act, the EC is also guilty of abetting electoral fraud or corrupt practices during elections. Under section 19 of the Election Offences Act 1954, a candidate for every Parliamentary and state constituency can not spend more than RM 200,000 and RM 100,000 respectively. This means that a political party like BN, that contests all the 219 Parliamentary and 445 state constituencies on offer in the 2004 general elections, can not exceed spending RM 88.3 million.

If the legal limit for the 2004 general elections expenditures can not exceed RM 88.3 million, then Election Commission (EC) Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahmanís revelations that RM 110 million alone was spent on election posters questions the legality of the BN government. It is unlikely that opposition parties can raise RM 10 million much less RM 110 million. So clearly that BN had spent at least RM100 million in the last general elections, far exceeding the legal limit of RM 88.3 million.

Spending above limits imposed by the Elections Offences Act 1954 is an illegal practice under Section 27 and is subjected to a fine of RM 5,000 by the Sessions Court, disqualification as a wakil rakyat and rights as a voter. Such laws are intended to outlaw the practice of money politics of buying an election.

This RM 110 million only covers posters and does not include other election expenses such as food, drinks and transport cost which could double the amount of RM 110 million. Clearly all BN candidates under the Elections Offences Act are disqualified from exercising their authority as a wakil rakyat.

For Tan Sri Abdul Rashid to state that RM 3.5 million was spent in the last state by-election in Pengkalan Pasir in Kelantan, means that the candidates had exceeded the RM 100,000 legal limit by 35 times. If the EC knows that such laws were violated and yet stood aside arm akimbo without taking any action, it is not only making a mockery of the very election laws it has drafted but also the spirit of democracy that votes should not be bought and sold.

What is more shocking than Tan Sri Abdul Rashidís revelation of RM 110 million spent on election posters alone is the failure of EC and him to act. Banning money politics should be one of the main priorities of the EC not only to sustain the integrity of elections and democracy but also to save the country from corruption. If votes can be bought without being punished then anything can be bought and fighting corruption is a hopeless task.

(23/11/2006)


* Lim Guan Eng,  Secretary-General of DAP

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