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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Election Commission chief denies favouritism

EC chairman Hashim Abdullah says agency is working with Economic Planning Unit to go to ground to set up counters at universities and suburban areas.
Hashim-Abdullah-ecPETALING JAYA: The Election Commission (EC) has refuted “negative perceptions” over social media that portray the agency as working to ensure victory for only one political party.

Its chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah said the agency faces a daunting task in countering such perceptions aired over platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
“If it is true that we are ill-intentioned, why then were rich states like Selangor and Penang won by the opposition?” he said, adding that Kelantan also has been held by the opposition for 27 years.
“I never asked voters to choose any party, but I only tell them to vote,” he was quoted as saying in a report by Utusan Malaysia today.
Hashim said it had become trendy for certain groups to take legal action against the EC.
“It is now a trend to bring EC to court. At this moment we cannot continue with redelineation in Selangor because the state government has blocked this in the courts,” he said.
The EC has maintained the 222 parliamentary seats for the next general election (GE14), and also kept the number of seats in all state legislative assemblies in the peninsula.
However, it has redrawn electoral boundaries, prompting criticism from civil society and political parties, especially those in the opposition.
On March 9, the High Court allowed the Selangor government’s application for the EC to provide information regarding the changes in locality of voters in the last two redelineation exercises, involving the boundaries for parliamentary and state constituencies in 1993 and 2004.
The court however, dismissed the state’s application to cross-examine Hashim in its legal action on the EC’s current proposed redelineation in the state.
Earlier this week, Bersih 2.0 accused the EC of making the electoral roll worse by refusing to give either hard or soft copies of the draft supplementary roll for the first quarter of this year.
The electoral watchdog criticised the move as being no less than an act of sabotage.
Hashim also said public awareness on participating in elections is still low as 3.8 million Malaysians above the age of 21, who make up 21.1% of the country’s nationals, are eligible to vote but have not registered yet.
“This is a very big figure and if they do not register they will not be able to go to the ballot box in the upcoming election,” he said.
He added that of the total 18 million people eligible across the country, only 14.2 million had registered as voters by the end of last year.
Awareness is also low among university students as of the 5,000-odd students aged 21, only 2,000 or 40% have registered, he said.
“In order to ensure more people register, the EC is cooperating with the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) to go to the ground to set up counters at universities and suburban areas where they can register.”
“After that we will go to schools to ensure teachers also register. If we are not aggressive and do not take the initiative, the number of those that are not registered may rise again,” he said.
Hashim said GE14 will be his first since he became the commission’s chairman last year. -FMT

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