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Thursday, March 31, 2011

EC passes vote-buying buck to MACC


March 31, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — The Election Commission (EC) has refuted Transparency International Malaysia’s (TI-M) claim it failed to ensure bribe-free polls as it was the job of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to tackle graft.

EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar told The Malaysian Insider it was “unfair” of TI-M to slam the regulator for not enforcing anti-bribery election laws, calling the whole affair “odd”.

“It’s odd because TI-M is aware and understands that the task of monitoring and eradicating any act of bribery, including political bribery and bribery during elections, falls under MACC’s purview,” he said.

TI-M yesterday savaged the EC for failing to ensure free and fair elections in the country despite the autonomy granted to the latter under the Federal Constitution.

“We cannot rely completely on the EC to enforce these rules... they don’t seem to be independent in practice,” he had told reporters.

Low said that there has been no proper enforcement of existing election laws, and suggested that this was the reason many election offences went unpunished.

“The EC today is just managing the elections process, not enforcing it,” he said. “There are not too many do’s and don’ts... things are just not clear, borderline on corruption.”

Low’s stinging rebuke against the EC comes as Sarawak, the country’s largest state, prepares to hold state elections next month.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers have repeatedly accused the EC of failing to be neutral during by-elections, resulting in numerous complaints to the commission.

The EC, however, has maintained that it is impartial and independent, denying opposition allegations that it favours Barisan Nasional (BN).

Wan Ahmad stressed today that the EC worked closely with the MACC to monitor election bribery which, he said, was a serious offence in any form.

“It’s true that the Election Offences Act 1954 contains sections about bribery but for any act of bribery or complaints about it, the EC will ask for MACC’s help or hand over responsibility to it,” he said.

“Likewise, all criminal acts and security matters during elections are under the police’s scope of duty.”

According to the Federal Constitution and other laws, the EC is responsible for the management and execution of elections.

Malaysia’s corruption index score dropped to its lowest level ever last year, going from 4.5 to 4.4 out of 10, with 10 being the least corrupt.

The country’s 2010 ranking remained unchanged from the year before at 56 out of 178 countries, putting it on par with Namibia and Turkey. - Malaysian Insider

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