MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Saturday, July 30, 2011

EC is not telling the truth: It can make changes without BN approval

EC is not telling the truth: It can make changes without BN approval

16 days after Bersih 2.0 and finally the Election Commission meets Ambiga Sreenevasen on a public stage to discuss election reforms. Yet, all is not well with the Election Commission as more questions have been raise in the aftermath of its lacklustre answers.

EC deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar absolved himself and his colleagues of any responsibility towards electoral reforms amid boos and jeers during a public dialogue with Bersih chairman Ambiga Sreevenasan, stressing that there was “nothing wrong” with the EC.

“The EC is not an enforcement agency; it is only a management body for elections. The best we can do is to propose relevant laws to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“But ultimately it is the government of the day, which obtained majority votes, which has the final say. If the government decides that voting age is 21 years old, whatever proposal we send to the A-G’s Chambers can never go to Parliament,” he said at a public forum titled What next after July 9.

A lie of a statement

This is a rather funny statement from the EC deputy chairman, as the manager for elections in Malaysia, the EC is provisioned to make rules as stated in Article 113 (5) of the Federal Constitution. This provision within the Federal Constitution was pointed out by the Bersih chairperson to the EC deputy chairman.

Rules of conduct for elections are well within the boundaries of the EC since these are the rules that go into effect during an election. There is no need for such rules to pass through the AG chambers as long as these rules uphold and stay within the context of federal law.

Thus among other things, the use of indelible ink, a period of 21 days for campaigning and equal access to main-stream media are all measures that the EC can decide on, without having to refer to the AG chambers.

The only time such rules should be referred to the AG chambers is if there is a possibility a rule can contradict a federal law. Even then, if it does contradict a federal law, the EC does have the responsibility to stand by its decision or decide on an alternative.

It is the responsibility of the EC to uphold its role in ensuring that elections are conducted fairly and properly in Malaysia. Appointments are by the Agong and members to the EC must not have any other affiliation whether to political parties or to business entities.

This means they have to ensure that they are neutral and unbiased. If they are unable to be neutral or believe that they cannot play an impartial role as Wan Ahmad himself suggested, then they should immediately resign or be in gross disobedience to the King.

Cheating starts in the EC database itself

Instead, the EC has turned a deaf ear to allegations of phantom voters. When cornered with proof of such voters, the EC states that it is powerless to remove them from the voter listings. To remove a deceased person from the roll, a death certificate needs to be produced. Such technicalities have uncovered some rather funny instances of voters reaching more than 100 years old, still being eligible to vote.

Then there is the case of multiple voters residing under one address. The EC is powerless to remove such voters as it needs to be proven they do not reside at the location. This is their excuse.

But above all, the question that begs an answer is, how did such voters get registered in the first place? Voter registration is conducted by the EC, and an identity card is needed upon registration. All voter registration is entered into a computer database, thus it can be inferred that any manipulation of voter’s registration data happens within the database that is eventually printed out as the electoral roll.

Further points of contention comes from the refusal of the EC to extend postal votes to those who qualify but do not fall into the category of police personnel or the military. In the recent Sarawak state election, this deprived the Sarawak diaspora who work in the peninsula or West Malaysia, their right to ballot. Voters who wanted to vote were forced to pay unnecessarily for airfare back to Sarawak in order to cast their votes.

Making it harder for voters to vote

As overseers of the election process, it is the responsibility of the EC to ensure that all citizens of Malaysia have the opportunity to cast their vote as granted by Article 114 of the Federal Constitution. The EC has instead chosen to make it even harder for Malaysians to cast their votes if they happen to reside away from the state of their origins.

The EC’s non-supportive stance is further evidenced by its refusal to provide automatic registration for Malaysians who reach the age of 21. Why then would the EC not grant Malaysians this facility and ensure that all get the opportunity to vote? Only the EC can answer.

In the wake of Bersih, the EC has shown itself as a toothless and clueless commission. Unwilling to stand up for the rights of everyday Malaysians and instead selling their souls to please their political masters - the BN goverment of the day.

- Malaysia Chronicle

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