Election Commission Needs to Salvage the Nations Tarnished Reputation

9 August 2008

The Permatang Pauh by election scheduled for August 26, 2008 is a yardstick to measure the independence and integrity of the Election Commission and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration. I, therefore, urge the government to ensure a free and fair electoral process in the northern constituency.
There is a prevalent sentiment that the sodomy charge leveled against former deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is orchestrated by the ruling elite to end his political comeback. The allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced as Anwar stepped up his campaign to return to power.
Abdullah and his ruling National Front coalition’s popularity has taken a beating as most Malaysian’s condemned the sex allegation, calling it a re-play of a ten-year-old script. As such, it is essential that the government does not further tarnish its image by rigging the by election.
Keeping this in view, I  would like to propose the following recommendations to the Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman:
a) The usage of indelible ink to reduce phantom voters: The Election Commission has already drained RM2.4 million of tax payers money by buying 48,000 bottles of ink. Citing reasons of public order and security to prevent the use of indelible ink is shoddy and lame;
b) To ensure a clean electoral roll to prevent the resurrection of the dead and the under aged in the voters’ list;
c) To prevent the abuse of government machinery:  Independent observers and non-governmental organisations have found many cases of abuse of government machinery in the previous Batu Talam, Ijok and Machap by elections. Barisan Nasional and its component party leaders should not use government vehicles to campaign for votes. The government must not resort to populist measures like announcing development plans and allocations to win votes. They should also apply for leave from office to participate in election activities;
d) The local print and electronic media, which are closely linked to the ruling elite, must ensure that both Anwar and the Barisan Nasional candidate are given equal space in their spread sheets and television channels.
Charles Santiago
Member of Parliament, Klang