Opposition parties: EC chief full of empty talk

Beh Lih Yi (Malaysiakini)
Dec 8, 06
Opposition leaders were cynical on an assurance by the Election Commission (EC) that it was willing to listen to grouses with the way elections were being conducted.What is more important, they said, was to translate the opposition’s grouses into real actions.

“I am happy the EC is willing to look into these grouses but what is important is that action must be taken,” Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) election committee head Azmin Ali told malaysiakini.
“There is enough PR (public relations) exercise of (EC chief) Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman,” he added.
“He (Abdul Rashid) is a nice man. I have met him privately and in a number of meetings, he is an accommodative person but unfortunately when he goes back to his office, he is not able to execute his duty,” said Azmin.
Azmin, who is also PKR vice-president, pointed out that the party had held several meetings with the EC previously to put forward its recommendations on how to conduct a free and fair election.
Their recommendations were contained in a report published by the party.
“I hope he has the courage to take up these recommendations,” he stressed.
PAS general election director Mustafa Ali echoed this view, stating that although meetings had been held between the party and the EC, nothing much had come out of PAS’ complaints so far.
Violation of laws
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, when contacted, also lamented that the EC has yet to implement a single proposal given by the party to improve the conduct of the elections.
He pointed out that the EC has failed to take any action so far against ruling Barisan Nasional candidates for exceeding the 2004 election expenses as opposed to the provisions of the 1954 Election Offences Act.
He was referring to Abdul Rashid’s earlier revelations that RM110 million was spent just on BN election posters in the last general election, which far exceeded the legal limit of RM88.3 million.
He (Abdul Rashid) doesn’t even enforce existing laws, said Lim, let alone implementing major electoral reforms.
Abdul Rashid was reported as saying that the EC was willing to hold discussions with the opposition parties and election watchdogs if they have problems with the way elections are being conducted.
A new election watchdog, Bersih, or the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, comprising of five political parties and 25 civil society groups was launched two weeks ago and had called on the EC to introduce several electoral reforms.
Abdul Rashid also said that any changes to the electoral procedures must first get a green light from the cabinet, followed by amendments to relevant laws in the Parliament.
He also shot down a proposal from Bersih to use indelible ink to prevent multiple votings, describing the method as “archaic”.
The next general election is due by early 2009.