SPR misleading the people

Bersih categorically rejects EC chief Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman’s allegation in the New Straits Times last Sunday (11 March 2007) that his critics did not get their facts right. In actual fact, Tan Sri Rashid was the one trying to mislead the public by simplifying, omitting as well as denying the facts.

The contamination of electoral rolls, which breeds “phantom voters”, must not only be attributed to the failure of voters to update their voting details when they move or change their addresses. Some of the falsehoods and inaccuracies found in the 2004 general election are simply shocking:
• Many phantom voters have never lived in a particular area, as they were not known to the local community. According to a survey carried out by MAFREL before the 2004 general election, 232 of 965 voters (24%) sampled in Gombak and 282 of 796 voters sampled in Lembah Pantai (35%) were not recognized by community leaders and local residents. Most ironically, five Chinese and one Malay phantom voters were found to be ‘living’ in the house of Keadilan vice-president Azmin Ali’s mother in 2004.
• In some other cases, voters had successfully registered to vote using non-residential addresses and even false or unknown addresses. According to the abovementioned MAFREL survey, there were at least 116 such fraudulent addresses in Lembah Pantai and 13 in Gombak in 2004.
• Some were registered at addresses without house numbers, even though they lived in proper flats or apartments. For example, in the Lembah Pantai electoral roll dated 2 March 2004, a total of 203, 231 and 273 voters were registered (respectively) at Blocks 1, 2 and 3 of Rumah Pangsa Sri Pahang in Bukit Bangsar, without any unit numbers.
Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman owes the public a full explanation on the three instances of irregularities — were the addresses in these fraudulent or suspicious registrations provided by the National Registration Department?
BERSIH challenges him to provide proof so that the public can then point the finger at the responsible party. If he fails to do so, then Tan Sri Abdul Rashid is guilty of not telling the truth and directly shifting the responsibility to the NRD when he claimed that “we [EC] have never registered an ineligible individual or a non-citizen.” Tan Sri Abdul Rashid claimed that “close to four million”” of the 10 million registered voters have moved away from their constituencies. The public has a right to know how he obtained this figure. His methodology must not be untraceable, just like the phantom voters.
Sub-regulation 13(2) of the Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002 (ERER2002) accords the registrar of electors the power to make house-to-house inquiries to verify the identity of voters when necessary. Is it therefore not misleading of Tan Sri Abdul Rashid to say that purging non-residing voters requires the enforcement of Rule 15 of the National Registration Act 1990, and therefore beyond the EC’s power?
Tan Sri Abdul Rashid’s rejection of BERSIH’s proposal to use indelible ink is simply too unsophisticated to be taken seriously. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If “Malaysians had sufficient proof of identification”, how could instances of multiple voting or dead people voting emerge in every single election?
Tan Sri Abdul Rashid also evaded BERSIH’s third demand to repeal postal voting for the army, police officers and their spouses. The opaque process of postal voting is highly vulnerable to fraud and irregularities. Ironically, it was Tan Sri Abdul Rashid himself who told the media that “a large number of police and army personnel do not return their ballot papers on time” and revealed that “more than 5,000 postal ballot papers had not been returned by the navy base” in
Lumut in 2004. (Malaysiakini, 13 April 2004)
Tan Sri Abdul Rashid also ignored the question of campaign finances, caretaker government and administrative neutrality in his interview with NST. The Code of Election Ethics published by the EC which prohibits the misuse of government vehicles and communication facilities for campaigning purposes is toothless. Violations of the code are not an offence under the Election Offences Act 1954. Why has the EC not make such violations an offence under the Act?
Tan Sri Abdul Rashid also implicitly suggested that civil society has not made any attempts to hold dialogues with the government. The fact of the matter is that the issue of electoral corruption has been raised in various fora, including Parliament itself. BERSIH has also sought to meet Tan Sri Abdul Rashid but has been unsuccessful in getting an appointment in the last three months.
By misleading the public on the issue of electoral irregularities and to make them think that the EC has done its best while at the same time shifting the blame to the NRD, the Government and civil society, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid has failed in his role as the guardian of our electoral process. He is the one who did not get his facts right in the issues raised above. He owes the public a thorough explanation and apology. The only honourable thing for him to do now is to tender his