Polls panel: It is not cosmetic, it is about transparency

By Hamidah Atan

3 February, 2008
PUTRAJAYA: The use of indelible ink and transparent ballot boxes in the upcoming general election are to ensure a fair election under the electoral system, Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said. They were definitely not “cosmetic changes” as claimed by the opposition and the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih).
“It is not fair for them to say that. What we have done actually stemmed from their requests to see the election transparent and fair. We are doing this to ensure that the people will be satisfied with the election results and our system. What else do you expect us to do?
“Double voting or vote-rigging is one of the things the opposition has been accusing us of all this while. We are actually trying to meet their expectations,” Wan Ahmad said.
Steering committee members of Bersih tore up pictures of EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur on Friday in protest at the electoral system.
They alleged that the EC’s efforts to introduce indelible ink and transparent ballot boxes as well as clean up the electoral rolls were just “cosmetic changes”.
Referring to a newspaper report that the five Hindu Action Rights Force (Hindraf) leaders detained under the Internal Security Act might be contesting in the general election, Wan Ahmad said anybody eligible under the law to be a candidate could submit his or her nomination papers to the returning officer on nomination day.
“The decision will only be known on nomination day. We do not want to assume anything. Anybody who is eligible under the law can submit his or her nomination papers. The law clearly states all requirements for eligibility. So, the decision to be made, whether or not to accept one’s application, will also be based on the law.”
Wan Ahmad said candidates need not submit their nomination papers themselves but could, instead, have their proposers or seconders do so.
Hindraf leaders M. Manoharan, 46, P. Uthayakumar, 46, V. Ganabatirau, 34, R. Kengadharan, 40, and K. Vasantha Kumar, 34, are serving a two-year detention under the Internal Security Act.
Their legal counsel, M. Kulasegaran, was quoted as saying there had been many requests from the public through the short message service (SMS) for the five to be candidates in the general election.