Press Release: No one should be forced to vote

26 January 2007

EC must investigate Khaled Nordin


The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) strongly condemns the latest development in the run-up to the Batu Talam by-elections in which 2,113 members from seven co-operatives in Batu Talam have been made to pledge to vote in the by-election.

Entrepreneurial and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin was quoted as saying in a report in The Star on 23 January 2007, that there must be “a strong rapport between the Government and the co-operatives to ensure all plans and activities are carried out smoothly” and that he was confident the cooperative members “would use the by-election to give us a signal”.

The Minister also said he was confident the cooperative members would “make the right choice”, and that “it is up to the members to decide whether they want a straight or crooked bridge.”

This news report clearly demonstrates that the said Minister has abused his power and role as a Minister to secure votes for the BN candidate.

Bersih hereby calls upon the Police and the Election Commission to investigate whether Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin has committed an offence of “undue influence”, under Section 9(1) of the Election Offences Act 1954.

Every citizen has the right to decide for him/herself whether to vote and if so, who to support in an election. Anyone who directly or indirectly threatens to inflict damage or harm on another person in an effort to persuade him/her to vote is guilty of the offence of “undue influence”, which is punishable by imprisonment up to two years and a fine of up to RM5,000 under Section 11(1) of the same act. If the offender is a parliamentarian, he or she must be disqualified and the seat to be made vacant for a by-election.

Under Article 114 of the Federal Constitution, the Election Commission is said to owe a duty to exercise control and supervision over the conduct of elections and the registration of electors on the electoral rolls with a view to ensuring fair, genuine and impartial elections.

The Election Commission is empowered by law to discharge its duties and functions. This news report proves yet again that the Election Commission is merely acting as an administrative body and has failed to ensure that the upcoming Batu Talam by-election is clean and fair. Due to its ineffectiveness, the Election Commission has failed to live up to the aspirations of the public for a clean and fair election.