Commission head hints at election date

NST, 2007/11/16
MALACCA: The chairman of the Election Commission, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, said yesterday he knew when the general election would be held. But he did not state the date.

The indications are that it will be held after Jan 29 when the EC completes its briefings and courses for returning officers and assistant returning officers.
Rashid was speaking to reporters after the launch of the state-level briefing and course at the Renaissance Melaka Hotel here.
“We have embarked on our briefings and courses for the returning officers and assistant returning officers with regard to the next general election,” Rashid said.
“Malacca has been chosen as our first stop in a journey leading to the general election.”
The last briefing and course will be held at the EC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 29.
“I believe the next general election will be conducted after the end of our journey around the country.”
Among those present at the function were EC secretary Datuk Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor and state EC director Dzulkifli Abdul Rahman.
Asked to comment on the memorandum submitted by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in Kuala Lumpur, he said any dissatisfaction should be raised through the proper channels and not by taking to the streets.
“They (Bersih) have the right to agitate as it is part of the democratic process… if they feel something is not right they should put it forward using the correct channel.
“When people agitate, there must be something wrong somewhere and there should be a forum to make sure that they are heard and treated fairly. This should be looked into by the powers-that-be in a simple and peaceful way.
“If they want to discuss, we can provide them with a forum. Nothing can be achieved on the streets. My doors are always open but they do not want to talk to me as there is ‘nothing to talk about’ since our laws (election laws) are very clear,” Rashid said.
“They are looking at things that are beyond my door. So they have to talk to the powers-that-be.”
Rashid said the EC had been successful in conducting elections over the years and the system used in the past 11 elections had been proven effective.
“I believe the 12th general election will be carried out without any problem as we will use the same system, unless certain quarters do not want us to succeed and they interfere,” he said.
“Leave us alone and we will run the election according to the laws which are in place… no more, no less.
“But if they feel the laws are not fair, not complete and insufficient… it is not the business of the Election Commission but the business of the powers-that-be to look into it.
“If they are not satisfied, they cannot blame the EC as we do not make the laws. They have to find the right channel to ensure that the responsible parties are convinced that the election laws have to be reviewed.
“As far as we are concerned, we are comfortable with the present laws and we can run the elections. We have always been fair and transparent.”
Rashid said if certain quarters felt that the EC was not fair, transparent and free, then they should give the specifics and not hide under the cover of cliches such as “not fair, not transparent and not free”.
“We had dialogues but the things which are supposedly ‘not fair, transparent and free’ were not raised. Instead they touched on matters that do not concern the Election Commission,” he said.
“We (EC) cannot touch on laws other than the election laws. For example, we cannot change the Constitution or touch on it. Not only do we not have the power, we are not even in a position to make suggestions.”
Asked about his term as the EC chairman which ends in December, Rashid touched on the rumours that his term would be extended until after the general election.
“I do not want to stay… but I am doing this for the country. It is not fair for me to hand over my duties to a new person with zero knowledge.”
He added that the EC was working around the clock to get those who had registered in the third and fourth quarter of the year into the electoral rolls for the general election.