Election Commission has to prove its independence and impartiality in the fixing of length of election campaign, conduct of free, fair and clean elections as well as ensuring no abuse of power by caretaker government


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The new Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Omar Mohd Hashim said yesterday that no foreigner will be invited to observe the coming general election which must be held latest by August 7 next year, claiming that elections in the country have always been carried out in a fair and transparent manner.

If the countryís elections have always been carried out in a fair and transparent manner, then there would not have been so many complaints by the Opposition parties in every general election about the failure of the Election Commission to conduct a "free, fair and clean" election.

The Election Commission itself has no confidence that it could conduct a "free, fair clean" general election, especially with the warning by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that the next general election will be the "dirtiest" in history.

The Opposition parties are incapable of making the next general election the "dirtiest" in history, as only the Barisan Nasional parties, with their political hegemony and monopoly and abuses of 3M - money, media and government machinery - are capable of making the next election the dirtiest in history.


It is precisely because the Election Commission has no confidence that it could conduct a "free, fair and clean" general election that it has not responded to my proposal that it convene an all-party meeting to draw up a Electoral Code for free, fair and clean election  with an effective machinery for its enforcement - as a Commission for Free, Fair and Clean Election.

How can the Election Commission claim to have conducted fair and transparent 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?

Yesterday, Omar said that if the general election is held this year, the 1998 electoral roll with 9.7 million voters   gazetted on Jan 7 this year will be used and that the 650,000 new voters who registered during the votersí registration exercise in April/May would not be able to cast their vote.

This is most unfair and undemocratic.  Realising that the 10th general election could be held this year, the Election Commission has a responsibility to ensure that every eligible voter would be able to exercise his constitutional right to vote and should have made plans to ensure that the 650,000 new voters registered this year could be included in the electoral roll in less than three months of registration.  In other words, that the 650,000 new voters would be able to cast their vote if general election is held by September this year.

In this era of information technology, there is no reason why the annual preparation of electoral rolls to include the registration of new voters could not be completed in two or three months. The failure of the Election Commission to include the 650,000 new voters in the electoral roll for the coming general election will be a blot for the tenth general election in the nationís history.

Because of the many defects and shortcomings detracting from the legitimacy of the claim that general elections in Malaysia are "free, fair and clean", the Election Commission should welcome foreigner observers for the coming general election rather than making its strong objections to show that it has nothing to hide.

(24/6/99)


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