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Friday, May 31, 2019

After aborted tribunal against EC members, Bersih calls for RCI



Electoral watchdog Bersih is now calling for the government to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged misconduct by former Election Commission commissioners.
This came after a tribunal to investigate and remove the six EC officials last week found that the matter has become academic since they have already resigned.
Bersih chairperson Thomas Fann, in a press conference in Petaling Jaya today, said that the decision sent a message that public officials can get away scot-free by resigning before they can be investigated.
Thus, Fann said, Bersih is urging Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to set up the RCI to inquire into the commissioners' alleged misconduct and manipulation the 14th general election.
Bersih suggested that the RCI covers the period following the 13th general election up to the day after GE14 was concluded on May 9 last year.
It also proposed the RCI be based on several terms of reference, which include recommending action against former EC commissioners, including its then chairperson Hashim Abdullah, and others who may have been involved in the misconduct.
The RCI should also recommend any amendments to existing laws with aim of further strengthening Malaysia's electoral system, Fann said.
"After several hearings, it is most unfortunate that in a 3-2 decision, the tribunal panel members chaired by Steve Shim Lip Kiong decided that the matter was academic because all six EC members had resigned.
"Bersih is of the view that justice took a back seat to expediency with the tribunal's decision. It sent a message that public officials can escape misconducts by resigning before they can be investigated, and that cost, time and energy are more important than seeking justice," Fann told the press conference.
Tribunal's scope limited
The call for RCI echoed a similar suggestion by DAP MP Khoo Poay Tiong, who proposed on May 25 that the government sets up an RCI and a parliamentary select committee following the tribunal's decision.
Among the issues that Bersih suggested for the RCI to look into are: unconstitutional re-delineation of electoral boundaries; destruction of voters' addresses in the electoral roll; implementation of a flawed overseas postal voting system; the decision by EC to conduct the GE14 polling day on a weekday; and the unreasonable delay in announcing the election result.
They also want the RCI to look into abuse of military voters as vote banks, and ensure that it would not happen again in the future by making military voters cast their votes for their respective hometowns.
An example of the abuse was the shifting of military voters to Bagan Datoh in Perak to give an unfair advantage to then deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Fann claimed.
Responding to reporters’ questions on Bersih’s next course of action should the government turn down its call on basis that the issue has become academic, Fann said an RCI has different objectives.
According to Fann, while the tribunal was limited to investigating and removing EC commissioners, an RCI would have a broader mandate and thus it cannot be dismissed on the basis that the matter is academic. - Mkini

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