Press Statement by Teresa Kok in Shah Alam on Monday, 25th January 2010:
EC must clarify mechanics of implementing early voting system and enforcement of two-day pre-election cooling-off period
I wish to express my reservations to the Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omarís proposals to implement an early voting system and two-day cooling-off period (Source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/1/25/nation/5539994&sec=nation)
Serious questions need to be answered and answered in detail by the EC before these two proposals can be accepted.
Firstly, members of the police force, military workers and EC workers are already granted the right to vote by post prior to Election Day. What other occupations does the EC intend to qualify to vote early and by what criteria will the individuals in these occupations be identified? How will the EC ensure that the contents of the ballot boxes will not be tampered with during the extended voting period?
Secondly, the implementation of a longer cooling-off period will only be an unfair advantage to Barisan Nasional candidates and a handicap to Pakatan Rakyat and independent candidates because Barisan Nasional will have more time to campaign for votes via government-controlled mainstream media.
It is openly known that government-controlled mainstream media are not independent and do not provide fair coverage to non-Barisan candidates and even distort and conceal facts. A clear example of this was during the March 2008 election when results of Barisan Nasional candidates losing and that of Pakatan Rakyat candidates winning were delayed from being announced.
How will the EC ensure that a longer cooling-off period will not just allow Barisan Nasional more liberty to abuse and misappropriate government media and resources for their campaigning, when EC has done nothing to prevent such abuse in the past?
Until Datuk Wira clarifies exactly how the EC intends to implement an early voting system and how they will enforce a two-day cooling-off period without compromising the integrity of the electoral process, Malaysians will have serious doubts over the ECís impartiality and commitment to free and fair elections.
* Teresa Kok Suh Sim, Selangor State Senior EXCO & Member of Parliament for Seputeh