In the press conference this morning held at the PKR’s headquarters, I described the Election Commission under Tan Sri Rashid as the “additional component party of the Barisan Nasional”.
I also commented that Rashid has been talking nonsense all the times and the Malaysian public must not take his words seriously.
The examples I gave today were:
1. Rashid was the one who convinced the opposition to do away with the “pondok panas” (electoral rolls checking and canvassing booth) ,but he allows the BN parties to set up pondok panas at the eleventh hour without informing the opposition earlier;
2. Rashid was the one who extended the voting hours by two hours in Selangor at the eleventh hour in GE 2004;
3. Rashid was notified that there were more than 90 phantom voters registered under a same address(a double-storey link house in PJ Selatan) and yet he has the cheeks to say that the claim made by us was totally untrue;
4.Rashid was the one who allowed the lopsided delineation exercise that killed off many opposition (esp PAS) candidates in GE 2004;
5. Rashid was the one who refused to use indelible ink for the prevention of multiple voting by phantom/ BN voters;
6. Rashid has said and done nothing about the abuse of government machinery in the Batu Talam by-election despite of hard evidence and proofs such as video clips, photos and police reports were submitted to his office.
I have forgotten to mention that Rashid again sabotage the opposition in the impending Machap by-election by fixing Tuesday and Thursday as the day of nomination and polling day respectively in order to cause inconvenience to DAP supporters and workers.
Arul of PSM and K Shan of Suaram both commented that Rashid has been very evasive on questions and criticisms aired by the opposition.
Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad of Pas reiterates the three-point demands made by Bersih in November last year. There are 1. adoption of indelible ink 2. removal of the postal vote system except for diplomats and citizens residing overseas and 3. clean up the electoral rolls before the next general elections.
R. Sivarasa of PKR read out the official statement on behalf of Bersih.
Here’s the statement…
Integrity of EC and Tan Sri Abdul Rashid in question
The Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman has once again misled the public with his latest statement on 21 March 2007. The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) is extremely disappointed that he has avoided answering the serious concerns and issues raised by BERSIH on 13 March 2007. As a public servant, Tan Sri Rashid is, by the powers bestowed on him by the Federal Constitution, responsible for the conduct of elections and has a duty to address the concerns of the Malaysian public.
BERSIH is of the opinion that Tan Sri Abdul Rashid’s statement
intentionally ignored certain recent developments where the Courts
have addressed the role of the Election Commission, and the process
and conduct of elections as a whole. In 2001, Justice Datuk Muhammad Kamil Awang nullified the election result of Likas, Sabah on the ground that the 1998 electoral roll for the state seat was illegal as phantom voters, including non-citizens, had cast their votes on polling day. In his judgement, Justice Muhammad Kamil took the EC to task for its role in certifying and gazetting a questionable electoral roll, in spite of the numerous complaints made to the EC and the Government to carry out investigations into the existence of non-citizens in the electoral roll. He then went on to say that “it was unthinkable that the Election Commission should shut off the objections without inquiry” and “a constitutional wrong for SPR to have rejected the objections outright”.
According to the Election (Registration of Electors) Regulations
(Sabah) 1971, if a voter files an official objection against the
inclusion of a particular person, the EC has to hold a Public Inquiry
to which both the objectors as well as the ‘objectee’ are invited.
However, after the Likas judgment, the Government with the consent of the EC made an amendment to the Election Act 1954 in June 2002 whereby the electoral roll — once certified or recertified — shall be “deemed to be final and binding” and not “be questioned or
appealed against in, or reviewed, quashed or set aside by, any court.” This amendment has effectively removed all legal avenues to challenge the credibility of the electoral roll. When he was in part responsible for immunizing the electoral roll from any challenge in a election petition, why is Tan Sri Abdul Rashid asking his critics to take him to court?
Tan Sri Rashid is also aware of the judicial review case initiated by
Parti Keadilan Rakyat against the EC in April 2004 in respect of some of the irregularities that occurred during the 11th General Elections. Parti Keadilan Rakyat applied for rulings from the court with regard to several issues — the use of several versions of electoral rolls by the EC, allowing “pondok panas” at the last minute in contravention of the law, the extension of voting time in Selangor up to 7 pm, the practice of writing the voter’s serial number on the counterfoil of the ballot paper and whether candidates could still run for elections if convicted but had an appeal pending.
What did the EC do? Through the Attorney-General who appeared for the EC in court, it objected to PKR’s application on the grounds that it was a back-door way to challenge the election and said that any challenge regarding the conduct of an election had to be by way of an election petition. PKR had expressly said in its affidavit that it was not seeking to nullify the result of the general election in the way that a election petition would nullify the outcome in a particular constituency but was seeking rulings from the court to clarify the law for the future guidance of the EC and for the benefit of the Malaysian electorate. Tan Sri Abdul Rashid’s call for his critics to take him to court is therefore completely hypocritical when he had then instructed the Attorney-General to object to PKR’s challenge in that way.
We would also like to challenge him to answer the following queries.
1. 10,254 missing ballot papers in P36 Kuala Terengganu
According to the provisional results announced by the EC and covered by the mainstream press immediately after the 2004 elections, 71,322 voters or 98.39% of the registered electorate turned out at the polling stations and collected their ballots. However, 10,254 ballots were not returned, in another words, they went missing somewhere between the issuing desk and the ballot box. Interestingly, the provisional result also showed that 10,130 voters turned out to collect only their parliamentary ballot papers and not their state papers.
Tan Sri Abdul Rashid’s explanation then was that the ballot papers
were taken home by ‘collectors’. It is simply beyond our
comprehension that there were more than 10,000 ‘ballot paper collectors’ in Kuala Terengganu, when ‘normal’ people usually collect coins, stamps and so on.
Then in an even more bizarre twist to the whole episode, the final
result gazetted on 12 April 2004 showed that the parliamentary ballot papers collected were reduced by 10,237 and the missing ones by 10,004 to only 240. So, what caused the original discrepancy? There was no recount in Kuala Terengganu, according to EC’s own report.
Now, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid has righteously claimed, “What is it that we are not transparent about… when we count, display results, announce results? Everything is seen and done in the open…” We want him to explain what the EC did to make 10,114 ‘ballot collectors’ disappear in Kuala Terengganu. How can the EC convince the public that there was no possibility of ballot stuffing or number tampering in the electoral process?
2. 5,486 missing ballots in P74 Lumut
In a similar fashion, 5,486 ballot papers were collected but not
returned in Lumut (P74). Tan Sri Abdul Rashid’s explanation for that on 13 April 2004 was that “… many navy personnel [there] were out patrolling at sea, so they could not make it (in time for the postal balloting exercise)”. According to his own book, The Conduct of Elections in Malaysia (1994), postal votes were normally delivered three to four days in advance. The public is still interested to know about the patrolling operation that involved over 5,000 personnel for three to four days during the election period.
In addition to that, Tan Sri Rashid further revealed that 67,000postal ballot papers or one-third of the 200,712 issued were not returned nationwide. Technically, if these ballots were systematically transferred to marginal constituencies for ballot-stuffing purposes, the number would be sufficient to overturn the results of 38 constituencies.
Is this not a concern for the Election Commission chairperson whose top priority is by right the probity of elections? Should he not
support BERSIH’s proposition to abolish domestic postal voting?
3. The misinformation that “EC do not make laws”
While parliamentary laws have to be made and amended by Parliament, the proposals for any electoral law amendment come from the EC in practice. In fact, Section 16 of the Elections Act 1958 authorizes the EC to make by-laws called regulations and under Section 17, these regulations need only to be laid before Parliament, which may choose to annul them. In practice, the Election Commission has made amended three regulations on the Conduct of Election, Registration of Electors and Postal voting. All three regulations, available at http://www.spr.gov.my/index/legislation.htm , begin with this line:
“IN exercise of the powers conferred by Section 16 of the Elections
Act 1958 [Act 19], the Election Commission, with the approval of the
Yang di-Pertuan Agong, makes the following regulations:”
Is the EC chairman not ashamed that he has misinformed the public?
The only way for Tan Sri Abdul Rashid is out
As one of the institutions that governs the functioning of our
democracy, the Election Commission and its officials are as important as the judiciary and must therefore possess the highest level of integrity and credibility. In his desperate move to defend his and the EC’s reputation, it is most unfortunate that Tan Sri Abdul Rashid has only further demonstrated the EC’s weakness and inability to conduct elections freely and fairly, and his own dishonesty.
In the interest of the nation and democracy, we urge Tan Sri Abdul
Rashid to resign now, honourably.
Bersih to EC: Here’s the proof!
Mar 28, 07 4:40pm Adjust font size:
While Election Commission chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman claims that his detractors have ‘no proof’ of the commission’s faults, election reform movement Bersih said he had ignored the obvious.
Bersih, comprising 26 NGOs and five opposition political parties, today listed several recent glaring election irregularities:
Releasing electoral rolls to candidates three days before polling
Releasing electoral rolls to candidates that are starkly different from the ones held by EC officials at polling centres
Not publishing electoral rolls for public scrutiny prior to the general elections
Missing ballot papers in the Kuala Terengganu and Lumut parliamentary seats
Existence of non-citizens in the electoral roll during the 2001 Likas by-election
Furthermore, Bersih pointed out that several allegations pertaining to the 2004 general elections brought up in a judicial review case initiated by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), also remains unanswered.
Among the issues raised in the case were:
Use of several versions of electoral rolls by the EC
Allowing pondok panas (campaign booths at polling centres) at the last minute in contravention of the law
The extension of voting time in Selangor up to 7pm
The practice of writing the voter’s serial number on the counterfoil of the ballot paper
Whether candidates could still run for elections if convicted but had an appeal pending
(The application for judicial review was struck out after the attorney-general, representing the EC, argued that all challenges pertaining to elections had to be made in form of an election petition according to Article 118 of the Federal Constitution)
On March 21, Abdul Rashid claimed that his critics did not furnish proof that the EC was not transparent in its actions and challenged them to take him and the commission to court.
At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning, Bersih committee member and PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah said the challenge was not sincere as Abdul Rashid was well aware that the public could not take the EC to court.
Sivarasa said the government with the consent of the EC had on June 2002, amended the Election Act 1954 making the electoral roll “final and binding” – effectively removing all legal avenues to challenge the credibility of the roll.
“When he was in part responsible for immunising the electoral roll from any challenge in an election petition, why is Abdul Rashid asking his critics to take him to court?” asked Sivarasa, a practising lawyer.
Quoting the judgement in the Likas by-election petition in 2001, Sivarasa said the Election Court then had found the electoral roll to be tainted but the EC-initiated legal amendments in 2002 no longer allowed proper public scrutiny of the roll.
See-through ballot boxes
On claims by Abdul Rashid that the EC’s hands were tied because it merely functions within the confines of the law, Sivarasa said the EC was still capable of formulating election regulations.
“If he wants to, he can make new regulations next week. The rules doesn’t even need to be passed by Parliament. So please don’t confuse the public by claiming that the EC cannot make election rules,” he said.
Among the regulations which the EC have produced thus far include the Elections (Conduct of Elections) regulations 1981, Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations and Elections (Postal Voting) Regulations 2003.
Among Bersih’s core demands are the abolishment of postal voting, the use of indelible ink to mark voters who have cast their ballots and ensuring a ‘clean’ electoral rolls.
Bersih would be conducting its inaugural workshop on clean and fair elections on April 2 at Ceruk To’ Kun and Skudai. The second leg of the workshop would be in Kota Bharu on April 7.
Other Bersih members who attended the press conference were PAS strategist Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad, Suaram secretariat member K Shan, PSM pro-tem secretary general S Arutchelvan and DAP NGO liaison chief Ronnie Liu.
Meanwhile, the EC today announced that see-through ballot boxes will be introduced at the next general elections.
These new boxes are one of the demands made by poll watchdog groups to ensure transparency and avoid possible cheating.