EC chief, how close are you to the PM?

Nov 17, 07

Election Commission (EC) chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman has indicated he enjoys such privileged access to the premier that he knows when the next general election will be held.

If that is the case, it raises “disturbing questions” on the independence of the EC, said PKR information head Tian Chua.
Among them is: How close are you to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Abdul Rashid?
“We do not understand the motive of the EC chairperson making a claim that he has privileged information,” said Tian in a statement.
“If he truly possesses such information, he must reveal how he enjoys the access to the privilege of the prime minister. Under the Federal Constitution … the timing of a general election is the privilege of the prime minister,” he added.
Tian was responding to a Bernama report on Thursday quoting the EC chairperson as having said: “I can’t lie to you that I don’t know when the next general election will be held. I can’t tell you when but I have given enough reminders to all to prepare for the polls.”
Demands for reform
Abdul Rashid also hinted that the polls could be held as early as January next year.
The remarks of the EC chairperson – who is tasked to head an independent commission to ensure a level-playing field in the elections – instead “clearly illustrates” the need for a revamp of the electoral system, said Tian.
“The EC (chairperson) should stay away from making political remarks,” he said.
Tian also said Abdul Rashid should take note of the demands and grouses of the people as contained in the memorandum submitted to the King last week by the polls watchdog coalition Bersih.
Four of their key demands are for the usage of indelible ink, the clean-up of voters registration, the abolition of postal votes, and free and fair access to the media.
“The four demands presented by Bersih are fundamental in ensuring a clean and fair election. The Election Commission should focus on addressing these questions of reforms,” said Tian.