Test of independence and professisonalism of Election Commission - whether it could ensure next election will not be the "dirtiest" in history by convening an all-party meeting to take pre-emptive actions


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang 
 

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): In an interview on Sunday, the Election Commission Chairman,  Datuk Omar Hashim, said the next general election will not become the "dirtiest" in the nationís history if all parties concerned, especially  the contesting political parties and candidates respect and comply with the laws and the electoral code of conduct.

This is not a satisfactory answer, as the Election Commission should be taking a pro-active position especially as it is none other than the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who had declared that the next election will be the "dirtiest" in history.

It  is not the Opposition parties, but the Barisan Nasional component parties which  have the capability to make the next election the "dirtiest" in history, with their  arsenal of "dirty electoral  tricks".

As the Election Commission has the constitutional duty to conduct a free, fair and clean election, it cannot ignore this warning that the next election will be the "dirtiest" in history.

This is in fact a test of the independence, professionalism and credibility of the Election Commission as to whether it could ensure that the next election will not be the "dirtiest" in history by convening an all-party meeting to take pre-emptive actions.

The Opposition parties have no hesitation in giving their fullest co-operation to ensure that the next general election will not be the "dirtiest" in history, but is instead  the most free, fair and clean - but are the Barisan Nasional parties prepared to make such a commitment?

For a start, are all political parties prepared to end the politics of fear and blackmail as threatening a May 13 and racial clashes, with all mass media, both printed and electronic, agreeing not to give space to such irresponsible politicking?

As nobody wants a May 13 or racial violence in Malaysia, anyone who tried to raise the spectre of May 13 by harping on it must be regarded as an enemy of the people.

Another important area that must be agreed upon to ensure that the next general election is not the "dirtiest" in history is to lay down clear guidelines as to the doís and doníts of a caretaker government after the dissolution of Parliament.

Cabinet Ministers of a caretaker government should not use government machinery or public funds for party campaigning on behalf of the Barisan Nasional, which must be regarded as an election offence and corrupt practice.

In India, a Prime Minister  was disqualified as a Member of Parliament because of misuse of government machinery during the caretaker government period - but in Malaysia, there had been blatant and unashamed abuses of power during the caretaker government period.

The very fact that neither the Election Commission nor the Anti-Corruption Agency had ever taken any action to stop such election offences and corrupt practices committed by members of the Caretaker Government after the dissolution of Parliament is testimony of the distance that has still to be travelled if Malaysia is to have clean, free and fair elections.

Is the Election Commission prepared to demonstrate its independence, professionalism and credibility by laying down clear guidelines on the doís and doníts of a caretaker government after dissolution - which is critical to its ability to discharge its constitutional duty to conduct free and fair elections.

(16/8/99)


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