Election Commission Secretary should not stray into the political minefield if Election Commission is not to forfeit all public respect and confidence


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The Election Commission Secretary, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, should not stray into the political minefield if the Election Commission is not to forfeit all public respect and confidence.

I am shocked by his reaction to my proposal for the establishment of a separate Clean, Fair and Ethical Election Commission, headed by former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Musa Hitam, to ensure that the next general election would not be the "dirtiest" in the nationís history as warned by the Prime Minister, and better still, to make the 10th general election the most free, fair and clean in Malaysian electoral history.

I made this proposal because all these decades, the Election Commission had been a failure as far as ensuring that general elections in Malaysia are free, fair and clean as it had been  powerless to check the electoral abuses of the ruling parties, whether it be the politics of money, unfair monopoly of the media, unprincipled use of the politics of falsehood, fear and blackmail or even blatant abuses of government funds, machinery and resources for Barisan Nasional vote-winning campaign.

After the Prime Minister had said that the next general election would be the "dirtiest" in history, there is no response whatsoever from the Election Commission although the  DAP had repeatedly called  on it to convene an urgent  all-party meeting to prevent the run-up to the general election from being tranformed into a season of lies and falsehoods and the next election becoming the "dirtiest" in the nationís history.

Wan Ahmad accused me of being disrespectful to  the Yang di Pertuan Agong and the Malaysian Constitution in making the proposal for a separate Clean, Fair and Ethical Election Commission.  (Nanyang Siang Pau 20.10.99)

I would not be surprised if such a baseless accusation had come from the Ibrahim Alis in the Barisan Nasional, but I am most shocked that the Election Commission Secretary should make such an allegation which does not reflect well either on him or on the Election Commission.

Is Wan Ahmad seriously suggesting that the Election Commission is immune from criticism, that any criticism tantamounts to criticism of the Yang di Pertuan Agong just because the Election Commissioners are  appointed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong?

Can an Election Commission Secretary who could make such a baseless and thoughtless  allegation be expected to play an important role to ensure that the next general election is free, fair and clean?

Can Wan Ahmad explain what the Election Commission had done  in the past five months since the warning by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad  in early June that the next election would be the "dirtiest" in history?  Or does he think that this is none of the business of the Election Commission?

If the Election Commission had not failed in its duty to ensure that general elections in Malaysia are free, fair and clean, there would have been no need for me to suggest a separate Clean, Free and Ethical Election Commission.

Musa Hitamís reaction  in London to my proposal in fact highlights the need for a mechanism to ensure a free, fair and clean election.

True, Musa said the nation does not need a second election commission to monitor the coming general election claiming that there  are enough laws to ensure it is free, fair and clean.

However, on my proposal that he head such a Clean, Fair and Ethical Election Commission,  Musa said he could not see himself carrying out the duties. He said: "As an Umno member, I want Umno to win (the general election). So it will be difficult for me to  carry out my duties if I were to be the chairman of the commission".

I thank Musa for his frankness but I am very disappointed that a fair-minded person like him still  felt that he could not rise above his UMNO membership to ensure that the next general election  is free, fair and clean, as what he said was
a confession that as  an UMNO member, he could not stop UMNO election tactics which are not clean, fair or ethical.

But can Malaysians expect the Election Commission to discharge its constitutional duty to ensure that the general election is free, fair and clean?

How can the Election Commission claim to have conducted free, fair and clean  elections in the past when:
 

Can the  Election Commission prove its independence and impartiality in the fixing of length of election campaign, conduct of a free, fair and clean election as well as ensuring no abuse of power by the caretaker government during the election campaign period?

(21/10/99)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong