Election laws outdated, EC wants independent review

Malaysiakini, Jan 8, 07


This comes from the horse’s mouth – our election laws are no longer relevant, said the Election Commission (EC). And it wants an independent commission to review them.According to EC chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, an overhaul of the election laws were needed to ensure the electoral process be transparent and fair to all political parties.

He said that the election laws – which were drafted more than five decades ago – are no longer suitable and that they could no longer ensure justice for all parties in view of the changes in the Malaysian society.

“People are smarter now and the country is also getting modern. People are asking why we can’t have an election which is more transparent,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama after launching the new Election Academy in Bangi, Selangor today.
Abdul Rashid said the review should also include a restructuring of the EC – the body tasked to manage the election process – and to give the organisation more powers.
However, Abdul Rashid said the King’s powers to dissolve the Parliament should remain.
“It should remain at the discretion of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. We will only need to amend a few other laws,” he told reporters.
Abdul Rashid, who has served in the EC for about three decades, is known to have made controversial remarks previously.
In an interview with malaysiakini in 2003, he said the organisation he headed was not ‘independent’.
In the wake of 2004 general elections, he called for an independent commission to probe the EC after voting hours in Selangor had to be extended due to problems with the electoral rolls. This was however rejected by the government.
Offers himself as adviser
Abdul Rashid has also ‘offered’ himself to be the adviser of the independent commission if his services are needed.
The last round of major amendments on the election laws were in 2003.
Among others, the amendments approved by the Parliament included increasing the deposit from RM2,000 to RM10,000 for each poll petition and to allow an appeal to be made to the Federal Court within 14 days of a judgment. Previously, the decision by the election judge was final.
On the upcoming by-election in Batu Talam which has been slated for Jan 28, Abdul Rashid expressed confidence that the weather would not hinder the polls as the Meteorological Department has forecast better conditions by then.
“I am not worried because Batu Talam is located on hilly grounds,” he replied when asked to comment on the floods which hit the east coast currently.