Vote of no confidence on the EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof in running the Kuala Besut by-election
It is indeed a sad and tragic time for Malaysia as we convene to observe the first by-election in the country after the fouled 13th General Election with the untimely demise of Kuala Besut state assemblyman Dr A Rahman Mokhtar after losing his battle to lung cancer. According to the Election Commission chief, the by-election must be held within 60 days and before 27 August 2013.
The begging question is, after all the sham, travesty and various unanswered questions surrounding how the 13th GE was carried out, has the EC gained public confidence to run the first ever by-election in Terengganu in a clean, free, fair and democratic manner?
There have been more questions than answers aimed at the Election Commission with regards to a democratic electoral process, ranging from cleaning the electoral roll, to gerry-meandering electoral boundaries, dubious voters, “safe” houses, vote buying, money politics, racial politics and the latest, being the indelible ink which, funnily enough, revealed to be “edible” ink and at a whopping RM 7.1 million! That the way the EC has carried out the elections is most embarrassing for a country like ours, contrary to what our Bapa Transformasi Datuk Seri Najib has declared that we are seen to have “the best democracy in the world” – that a matured civil society that yearns to see a change in government through a democratic voting process, has been denied a chance to actually decide on the government of the day and in consequence the future of this nation.
Article 114 of the Federal Constitution clearly states “In appointing members of the Election Commission the Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall have regard to the importance of securing an Election Commission which enjoys public confidence”. The EC chief said that only the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has the power to order the EC leadership line-up to step down from their posts if they were found to have violated the election regulations and the federal constitution. What he has forgotten is that, the commission must enjoy public confidence in carrying out its duties. In this case, what is obvious is that the rakyat has lost faith and confidence in the EC to shoulder the responsibility to nurture, supervise and preserve the democratic process in the country through free and fair elections. It is the responsibility of the EC to ensure that people can choose their representatives through direct vote in every election as stated in the Election Commission website.
By rule of thumb, the EC body and its chair must be removed from partisan political control and intervention. It must not be seen by the public as closely associated with the government of the day, or as working toward the re-election of the incumbents.
The Dominion Elections Act was a Canadian bill passed in 1920 that first created the position of Chief Electoral Officer. In 1927, the law was amended so that this individual would be appointed by resolution of the House of Commons, rather than by the government of the day. It was thus recognized that the office needed to have the confidence of all political parties represented in the House of Commons. The Chief Electoral Officer is responsible to Parliament, rather than to the government.
In April 2010, Nigeria’s chairman of the Independent National Commission (INEC), Maurice Iwu was ordered to immediately step down by the acting President Goodluck Jonathan. Critics of INEC claimed in the past, elections had been marred by ballot-stuffing and voter intimidation. In 2011, the Governor of Indianapolis Mitch Daniels had called the state top election official to step down until voter fraud and other charges against him are resolved. In Sept 2012, Camara, the president of the Guinean national election commission made a bold move to step down amid accusations that he is an ally to the current government. His decision to step down was “to allow the electoral process to move forward calmly”. All of them had either voluntarily stepped down or ordered to step down to uphold democracy in their nations.
It is most un-gentlemanly and arrogant of Abdul Aziz to attack the opposition on dragging the people to stage nationwide protests against the process of the General Election and that it would not change the results. Indeed, very cautious words spoken by someone who is afraid of his masters, the ruling BN regime. The rallies and protests that had been seen taking place all over Malaysia is in no way to overthrow the government but to demand for a commitment to ensure a clean, free and fair elections and of their fundamental political right to decide on the verdict of a nation based on the performance and promises of a government.
Malaysians have lost faith in the current Election Commission chairperson in running the impending by-election that he and his team will give their full pledge and commitment to ensure a legally binding, democratic election, not because Malaysians are anti-EC or even anti-Abdul Aziz but rather anti-electoral fraud, anti-rigging, anti-racism and anti money politics.
How can the people of Kuala Besut be assured of a democratic, fair and clean by-election if the same chairman and the same team are entrusted to run this election despite so many disgraceful loopholes that are still unresolved? Tan Sri Abdul Aziz must step down now and resign from his position as Election Commission so that under a different leadership, who is bound by law will be able to ensure a peaceful electoral process, without fear or favour thus enjoying public confidence and instilling the true spirit of democracy and freedom.