Polls panel 'has good track record'

By Wan Hamidi Hamid (NST)
21 November, 2007

SINGAPORE: There is no reason for anyone to doubt the sincerity and capability of the Election Commission (EC), Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said. The prime minister said the EC had proven itself in previous elections despite allegations of unfair conduct from the opposition.

“What I want to see is a fair, free and democratic election. This will enable all voters to come out and vote.
“If there are those who don’t want to vote, what can we do about it?
“The EC has handled elections for so long.
“Throughout our history of elections, there were many times the opposition had won,” he told Malaysian journalists on the sidelines of the Asean summit here yesterday.
Abdullah was asked to comment on EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman’s remarks on Monday that he was willing to resign if the political parties and other participants of the illegal Nov 10 rally could provide proof of irregularities such as vote-rigging during elections.
The prime minister said he not only believed the EC was capable of handling the next general election but also praised the body for having conducted fair and democratic elections in the past.
He cited examples when the then opposition Gerakan took over Penang in the late 1960s, the then opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) capture of Sabah from the Barisan Nasional in the 1980s and the swing between BN and Pas in Kelantan for the past 50 years, as well as Pas’ win in Terengganu in 1999.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. The most important thing is for the people to be free to make a choice.
“I don’t understand why the opposition and others are saying we’re not being fair. The outcome of any election is determined by the people.
“As the leader of the winning party, of course, I want to see us achieving a credible victory. Let the people decide,” Abdullah said.
According to sources, Abdul Rashid spoke out because he was upset with the opposition’s continuous demands despite efforts by the EC to ensure fair and free elections.
Bersih, a coalition of opposition parties and some NGOs, demanded the use of indelible ink to prevent multiple voting, the removal of phantom voters from electoral rolls, the scrapping of postal votes and equal access to the media including privately-owned media.
Even after almost all the demands had been fulfilled and the EC updated the details of registered voters, the opposition continued with the campaign to discredit the EC, said a source.
“That’s why Rashid is very upset with them and even offered to resign if they showed proof of irregularities.
“For him, if they can prove any wrongdoing, just go to court. Why disrupt others with street demonstrations?” the source said.
Rashid had said he was sad when the opposition kept repeating the allegations without any proof.
“You are only giving out 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,” he was quoted as saying on Monday.
Bersih’s memorandum to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was submitted by DAP’s Lim Kit Siang, Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Parti Keadilan Rakyat de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to an Istana Negara official on Nov 10.
The king has categorically denied condoning the rally as claimed by certain opposition members and neither was he agreeable to the way the illegal mass demonstration was held.