Polls chief: I'll quit if there is proof of vote-rigging

By Hamidah Atan (NST)
20 November, 2007

PUTRAJAYA: Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman yesterday called on political parties and other participants of the Nov 10 rally to go to court if they were unhappy with the way elections are conducted. Abdul Rashid said he was prepared to resign if they could show proof of irregularities like vote-rigging.

“Don’t go to the streets, shouting slogans, enter villages, hurling all sorts of allegations. We have done well in all the general elections.
“Even my foreign counterparts praised me because here we get faster results and the elections are smooth.
“There is no such thing as vote rigging. I am sad they keep saying it without any proof. You are only giving a bad image of your own country. I have been through six general elections and to date, no one has ever approached me with evidence of irregularities.
“I will resign, the (EC) panel will also resign, if you can provide me with the proof,” he said.
On Nov 10, a coalition of opposition parties and non-governmental organisations calling itself Bersih organised a rally of some 10,000 people, according to an official estimate, to march to Istana Negara with an election reform petition.
The memorandum was submitted by Lim Kit Siang of the DAP, Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to an official at the gates of Istana Negara.
Abdul Rashid said the allegations against the EC were based on suspicions.
“They create their own judgments and suspicions. Only the court can decide whether there are irregularities or not. If you are not happy with the way elections are conducted, take the matter to court,” he said.
“This is a strong government and I am proud of the (election) system. I am not praising the government or the party in power. We have been enjoying peace and prosperity. Isn’t this because of this government?
“If the judge says there is vote-rigging and the commission is responsible, we will resign but stop making allegations without any proof.”
On Bersih’s petition which, among other things, called for postal votes to be abolished, Abdul Rashid said it was a constitutional matter and the commission could not do anything about this.
He said the dissatisfied parties should take this issue up with the rightful authorities.
However, he said the manner in which postal voting was conducted would be improved.
Previously, party agents were not allowed into military camps or police bases where the voting took place.
“I had a word with the prime minister recently and he agreed to the presence of political party agents in these camps. Although these camps were security areas, the prime minister has agreed to the proposal to get rid of people’s suspicions.”
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan had also agreed to this, he said after meeting independent election watchdog Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) representatives in his office.
On his recent statement that he knew the date of the general election, but could not divulge details, Abdul Rashid said: “What I said to Pak Lah, I don’t have to tell you. We are responsible for the election and I want all parties to be prepared for it.”
He said the government, however, had to be fair to the commission.
“We cannot be caught unprepared. They (government) have to tell us to be fair to us. All political parties must be given enough notice.”
Asked about his retirement which falls on Dec 31, Abdul Rashid replied, “I have served my full term and it is mandatory that I have to go.
“(I) don’t know whether there will be an extension (to my service) or not. I never asked but today, I am still the chairman. I have not received any notice and I don’t care.”