Straits Times reported today that the Election Commission will invite political
parties, both Barisan Nasional and the opposition, for a closed-door meeting
soon to get their views on the proposed amendments to the Election Offences Act
Election Commission said it would call the meeting once it reaches a consensus
with the police, Attorney-General’s Chambers and Registrar of Societies on the
Commission Chairman Datuk Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman had said that the Election
Commission needs enforcement powers through the establishment of an enforcement
unit to take on-the-spot action
against offences committed during election campaigning to ensure smooth and
incident-free election campaigns.
Election Commission should have convened such an all-party roundtable conference
on amendments to the Election Offences Act before it submitted its proposals to
the Cabinet, which gave its
approval in principle on 24th July 2002.
comprise the Cabinet Ministers if not leaders of
Barisan Nasional component parties – which is putting the cart before
the horse and making the proposed meeting to be called by the Election
Commission a farce and a charade, attended by low-level Barisan Nasional leaders
as the policy decisions on the amendments had already been made by the top
Barisan Nasional leaders in Cabinet!
is the use of the Election Commission belatedly convening such an all-party
meeting when it is going to use the Barisan Nasional’s two-thirds majority in
Parliament to ram through the undemocratic amendments into law – regardless of
the legitimate comments and views of the Opposition and the civil society?
Election Commission’s proposed enforcement unit can only be justified if it
has wide-ranging powers to ensure “free, fair and clean elections” not just
to take down Opposition posters or stop Opposition ceramahs but to halt Barisan
Nasional 3M abuses of media, money and government machinery, when they run afoul
of the code, practices and law on free, fair and clean elections.