Election Commission violating the National Integrity Plan

Media Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP MP for Ipoh Timur Lim Kit Siang

Parliament, 25th January 2008

 

Election Commission violating the National Integrity Plan in refusing to recognize the concept of caretaker government when Parliament is dissolved to ensure free, fair and clean general election

I have received a shocking response from the Election Commission declaring that it does not recognize the concept of caretaker government when Parliament is dissolved to ensure free, fair and clean general election.


The Secretary of the Election Commission Datuk Kamaruzaman bin Mohd Noor in a letter dated 17th January 2008 but faxed to my office on January 22, 2008 in response to a letter dated 7th January 2008 from Lau Weng San, Secretary to Parliamentary Opposition Leader’s Office asking for the fixing of an appointment between the Election Commission Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid and myself, wrote:
Sukacita dimaklumkan bahawa dalam kerangka undang-undang pilihan raya Negara kita termasuk Perelembagaan Persekutuan tidak menyatakan adanya ‘Caretaker Government’. Oleh yang demikian, apabila pembubaran Parlimen atau Dewan Undangan Negeri berlaku, maka kerajaan yang memerintah sebelum pembubaran tersebut akan terus menerajui kerajaan sehinggalah sebuah kerajaan baru ditubuhkan selepas keputusan pilihan raya diumumkan secara rasmi oleh Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR) Malaysia.
“Adalah dimaklumkan bahawa SPR bukan jabatan atau agensi kerajaan yang bertanggungjawab untuk memberikan tafsiran mengenai sesuatu perkara atau fasal yang terkandung di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Ini kerana pihak yang lebih layak untuk memberi apa-apa interpretasi mengenai Perlembagaan Persekutuan ialah Jabatan Peguam Negara. Justeru itu, tuan adalah dinasihatkan untuk berhubung terus dengan Jabatan berkenaan jika tuan memerlukan apa-apa interpretasi mengenai sesuatu perkara atau fasal yang menyentuh Perlembagaan Persekutuan.
The fifth principle of Rukunegara committed the government and every Malaysian to “Good Behaviour and Morality” but Malaysia has never been subjected to a more intense attack of the most brazen disregard and contempt for fundamental decencies of good behaviour, morality and the principles of good governance as in recent times – with the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Tape in the past two weeks providing the most blatant and flagrant of examples.
But such brazen disregard and contempt for good behaviour, morality and good governance are not just confined to the circus of the Lingam Tape Royal Commission of Inquiry but is to be found in every department of public administration.
The latest example is furnished by the Election Commission with its contemptuous dismissal of the concept of caretaker government when Parliament is dissolved – expected during the Chinese New Year period.
The Election Commission is violating the National Integrity Plan in refusing to recognize the concept of caretaker government when Parliament is dissolved to ensure free, fair and clean general election.
Nobody is asking the Election Commission to interpret the Constitution. The Election Commission is also barking up the wrong tree when it claims that the Constitution is silent on the “caretaker government” concept.
Is the national integrity concept and the National Integrity Plan to be found in the Constitution, and is the Election Commission immune from having to honour and uphold the principles of institutional good behaviour and integrity in the discharge of its constitutional duties to conduct free, fair and clean general election?
Or Will the Election Commission turn around and say that as the Constitution does not say anything about “free, fair and clean election”, the Election Commission has no constitutional duty to ensure that the next general election is free, fair and clean, although the Election Commission is going to spend RM200 million, the most expensive general election in the nation’s 50-year history?
The Election Commission is being most irresponsible in suggesting that a different government would be constituted to be the “caretaker government” after dissolution of Parliament.
This is not the case. The Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers remain the same, with them drawing their salaries and emoluments from the public coffers despite the dissolution of Parliament.
However, they must be mindful that they are only a “caretaker government” after the dissolution of Parliament and they should not abuse government positions, machinery, resources and funds for any electioneering purpose for a political party or candidate.
A candidate, who benefits unfairly from any such “unhealthy” and dishonest practices, as campaigning assistance by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or Cabinet Minister through the abuse of their government positions or misuse of public funds and resources, should be subject to disqualification – and such penalties also apply to Cabinet Ministers who abused their “caretaker government” role as illustrated by the classic case of the disqualification of Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi who misused the “caretaker government” trust in flying around in government helicopter for party electioneering campaign.
The Election Commission would have failed its constitutional duty as well as the National Integrity Plan in rejecting the concept of “caretaker government” after dissolution of Parliament – which is all about honesty, integrity and ethical conduct.
I call on the Election Commission Chairman and Commissioners to convene an emergency meeting to review and rescind the Election Commission’s rejection of the “caretaker government” concept after dissolution of Parliament – for it will be a signal that the next general election could be the dirtiest one in the nation’s history.
In this connection, I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to declare whether he accepts and will honour the “caretaker government” concept when Parliament is dissolved, instructing all Cabinet Ministers not to abuse and misuse government positions, machinery, resources and funds for electioneering purposes so as to maintain a strict and clear distinction between government and party.
It is precisely because the clear and important distinctions between government, party and individual interests have been blurred which is the cause of the rampant corruption and abuses of power in the country making a total mockery of the National Integrity Plan launched by Abdullah in May 2004.

Lim Kit Siang