Prove rigging and I will step down, says EC chief

Tuesday November 20, 2007 (The Star)

PUTRAJAYA: Show me evidence of election rigging and I will resign, Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman has told his detractors.

He said he was very sad whenever accusations were levelled against the commission, particularly at an illegal rally organised by non-governmental organisation Bersih on Nov 10 calling for fair and just elections.
“If they will show me evidence that the commission has rigged elections, then I will – in fact, all members of the commission – will resign.
Working hand-in-hand: Abdul Rashid (left) receiving the report from Abdul Malek at his office in Putrajaya yesterday.
“But it must be evidence proven in court and not slogans shouted in the streets,” he told reporters after receiving a report from the election watchdog group Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) at his office here yesterday.
He also said that some of the suggestions contained in the memorandum, such as asking for the abolition of postal votes, should have been channelled to the right government agency.
“These are structural reforms beyond the commission because postal votes are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. Nevertheless, starting from this year, the Prime Minister has kindly consented for party agents to be present during postal voting,” he said.
Abdul Rashid said every election organised by the commission had been carried out fairly and freely within the law, which also formed the basis of the report by Mafrel.
“Mafrel has monitored the three by-elections in Ijok, Batu Talam and Machap, as well as the Sarawak state elections. It has concluded that despite some minor mistakes and weaknesses, the commission had done very well.
“As a non-partisan group, this is an acknowledgement for us,” he said, adding that the commission was supportive of efforts by Mafrel to continue monitoring the conduct of the next general election.
On the election date that he purportedly knew of, Abdul Rashid said it was the commission’s duty to fix polling day.
“The ruling party has the right to dissolve Parliament but once this is done, we will have to meet to fix the date for the elections,” he pointed out.
On another matter, Abdul Rashid said he was scheduled to retire from his post by Dec 31 on reaching the mandatory age of 65.
Asked if he had received a notice from the Prime Minister on the possible extension of his tenure, he said:
“I have received no notice and I don’t care. But if I am asked to, I am prepared to lead the commission into another election, even upon retirement.”
Mafrel chairman Abdul Malek Hussin said the watchdog had appointed an eight-member team to monitor the next elections.