Tan Sri Rashid’s EC term a unmitigated failure

Media Statement by DAP MP for Bukit Bendera Liew Chin Tong on 31 December 2008 in Penang
Tan Sri Rashid Abdul Rahman ended his term as the most controversial Chairman of Election Commission in history yesterday with a promise to sue opposition politicians who criticised him previously for various faults in the electoral system.

It is laughable that Tan Sri Rashid suggested that “if they (opposition politicians) are MPs, they can lose their seat if my suit against them is successful.” MPs will either lose their seats if they are criminally convicted or bankrupt but they won’t lose their seats for losing a civil case.
It is sad that Tan Sri Rashid parted with the Election Commission after 25 years of service, of which nine as its Chairman, with such an undemocratic statement when the EC should be the guardian of democracy in the country.
Tan Sri Rashid’s term as EC Chairman since 2000 is undeniably an unmitigated failure. Setting against the backdrop of rising demand for democracy and fair-play in elections, the EC under Tan Sri Rashid failed to carry out any concrete step to institute electoral reform.
One of the major failures rarely discussed is EC’s inability to register a third of eligible Malaysians as voters. According to EC’s Deputy Chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, there are 16.8 million Malaysians who are above 21 years old but only 10.9 million are listed on the electoral roll.
Most of the non-voters are young Malaysians below 30 years old and mostly live in urban centres. They are the voters whom the ruling Barisan Nasional failed to convince.
I am very concerned that the EC has ceased to allow political parties and NGOs to register new voters. My office has contacted the Penang EC Office recently and has been advised that “there was no allocation to allow new voters to be registered by political parties and NGOs.”
I urge the new EC Chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, to look into this as soon as possible and my office will contact him to seek clarification.
Tan Sri Rashid’s refusal to use the indelible ink during the March 2008 election and the subsequent by-elections despite promising the nation in August 2007 at the urging of BERSIH (Coalition for Clean and Fair Election) is another colossal failure that cost EC its credibility.
Other demands by BERSIH, such as revamping the electoral roll, ensuring fair media access, abolishment of postal votes, and a three-week campaign period were not entertained at all.
I wish Tan Sri Rashid well in his retirement but it is impossible for the nation to ignore his failures which resulted in Malaysia’s electoral system hovering at the level of African dictatorships.
Liew Chin Tong