Election laws should be overhauled to ensure "free, fair and clean" elections and not just because of the directive of UMNO Supreme Council or the Prime Minister


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The Election Commission Chairman Datuk Omar Hashim said the Election Commission will consider a one-day "cooling off" period before polling day for any election or by-election, where no campaigning would be allowed while only commission workers, the police, those with prior authorisation and voters would be allowed at polling stations on polling days.

There is an urgent need to overhaul the election laws to ensure "free, fair and clean" elections in the country, not just because of the directive of UMNO Supreme Council or the Prime Minister.

The Election Commission is an independent body and should not play along with the whims and fancies of the ruling parties.  It is clearly an exaggeration for Omar to claim that instead of the 76.28 per cent, there could have been a "100 per cent" voter turn-out in the Sanggang by-election "had many of the voters not been afraid to come out".

As far as ensuring that the "no campaigning" ban on polling day is observed, the one-day "cooling off" proposal is only one of the many suggestions that can be  considered, including limiting the number of party workers at each polling booth outside polling stations.

What is of concern, however, is that the Election Commission is not looking at the need for an overhaul of the election laws in totality to ensure Malaysian elections are "free, fair and clean", not just on the polling day itself, but also during the campaign period as well as in the preparation of the electoral roll.

It is an electoral scandal of the first magnitude that in the era of information technology, the Election Commission needs to take eight months to prepare its annual votersí lists, resulting in the disenfranchisement of 680,000 newly-registered voters in the recent general election.

(5/4/2000)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman