EC chief defends his record

Azreen Madzlan | Feb 14, 08
Election Commission (EC) chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman came out strongly to defend his track record in conducting free and fair elections as he announced the election dates today.
A defensive Abdul Rashid brushed aside a reporter’s questions after he was repeatedly grilled over electoral irregularities at a press conference held at the EC headquarters in Putrajaya this morning.
“You know what rigging means? Rigging means you change the content of the ballot box. Can anybody come and prove to us that this has happened?” the EC chief, who appeared irritated, pointed at the reporter.
Abdul Rashid, who has conducted five previous general elections [as EC chair and secretary], was asked to comment on his previous statement that the upcoming general election will be fair and free of the elements of vote rigging.
No ‘phantom voter’
He said there is no such thing as ‘phantom voter’, claiming that nobody has ever produced proof.
Abdul Rashid advised the media to be careful as reporting on such claims will reflect badly on the country and the EC, which is tasked to manage and ensure the smooth running of elections.
Earlier this week, electoral reform group Bersih has presented proof of the existence of 104 voters aged above 100 in the Selangor electoral roll to the Selangor EC.
Pressed by a reporter on this issue, he rebutted: “You want to argue over small things like this? You’re questioning me like in a court of law.”
He told critics to forward their complaints to the EC to be investigated.
EC secretary Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor, who was present, said the EC acknowledged the existence of the 104 registered centenarian voters but there is no proof to show that these people are dead.
He added that EC works hand in hand with the National Registration Department to remove the names of voters who have died as the latter is the agency responsible for the death record.
Allocations against the law?
Meanwhile, Abdul Rashid stressed that no election candidates should be involved in offering gifts to voters during campaigning as it violates provisions under the Election Offences Act 1954.
“But mind you, EC is not the agency to enforce (this law). The enforcement is by the police and if it involved corrupt practices, (the enforcer will be) Anti-Corruption Agency,” he explained.
However, he was coy when asked whether any announcement of development allocations during campaigning can be construed as violating the laws.
“I don’t want to comment on that part, but apparently the party in power has been doing that practice by convention. I presume they are alright unless you challenge in court. Any doubt on that should go to court,” he said.
“(But) the law is quite clear that the candidates shouldn’t be involved in making promises. Based on case law, it is an offence (but) you have to determine who did that,” he added.
In the run-up to the dissolution of Parliament, there was a string of announcements for development allocations – especially to the Chinese schools – by the BN government.
On the issue of ensuring a level playing field for all parties, the EC chief called on the media to provide equal coverage to all while the granting of ceramah permits will be up to the police.
Election watchdog, Malaysians For Free and Fair Election or Mafrel will be given the accreditation to observe this general election, added Abdul Rashid.