EC contradicts itself again

Chan Kok Leong | Feb 25, 08

The Election Commission was at odds with itself once again – what its chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said yesterday contradicted the instructions given by secretary Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor.
After Nomination Day yesterday, PAS had alleged that returning officers in Terengganu had refused to accept their objections that Umno’s statutory declarations (for four state and one parliamentary seats) did not pay their stamp duty.
The returning officers explained that they had received new instructions on Saturday to ignore the earlier ones given by Kamaruzaman. When pressed to show the memo, the officers could not comply.
Asked to comment on this, Abdul Rashid admitted that several candidates had problems paying their stamp duty because of the short notice. He added that the candidates did not get EC’s instructions.
“From a technical point of view, we can still accept them. More importantly, the public must understand that EC does not determine a person’s candidacy. It is the voters who will decide who wins,” he said on TV3.
“Let the people decide who should be their representatives. Based on this principle, we have not rejected anyone unless they are not qualified,” said Abdul Rashid.
Contacted at EC headquarters in Putrajaya, Kamaruzaman sang a different tune.
“As far as I’m concerned, the ruling stands. I did not issue any retractions because I can’t. According to Rule 7 of Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981, a statutory declaration must accompany each candidate’s nomination,” he explained.
‘Decision beyond us’
When Abdul Rashid’s comments were related to him, Kamaruzaman could only say, “That is the commission. I only carry out the commission’s instructions. They are the policy makers.
Asked if the absence of stamp duty on a candidate’s statutory declaration render his nomination void, Kamaruzaman kept mum.
“But if the commission accepts it, we (the secretariat) cannot do anything.”
Asked what recourse would PAS have if that is the case, he said that they can file an election petition in court later.
Earlier in the day, PAS vice-president Mohammad Sabu led a group of 25 supporters to submit its protest to EC.
EC public relations officer Sabri Said offered to accept the memorandum but this was refused by Sabu. He later tore up the memorandum in the EC’s lobby.
Meanwhile, EC secretary Kamaruzaman also revealed today that candidates can now send a polling agent to monitor postal votes.
The latest move, he said, was to allow opposition agents to take part in the entire postal voting process to ensure transparency.
He also took the opportunity to remind contesting parties on the rules pertaining campaign materials. He said that non-contesting parties in any particular constituency would not be allowed to have posters or flags of other parties.
He said while Barisan Nasional (because it’s a recognized coalition by EC) is allowed to have Umno’s flags in an MCA candidate’s area, the opposition (Barisan Alternative) could not.
This, he explained, was because the opposition coalition was not registered as one body under EC.