Election Commission Chairman, members and officers should first set an example by signing a pledge or “Akujanji” to conduct free, fair and clean elections before requiring candidates and political parties to sign Akujanji pledges
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The Election Commission has called for a meeting with all political parties next Thursday (May 22) on three proposals to be tabled at the next parliamentary meeting next month, including one which makes it compulsory for candidates to sign a pledge or “Akujanji” to ensure smooth and incident-free campaigning before contesting in the election. (NST 14.5.03)
The Election Commission Chairman, members and officers should first set an example by signing an “Akujanji” pledging to conduct free, fair and clean elections before requiring candidates and even political parties to sign Akujanji pledges.
There should be a mechanism where the Election Commission Chairman, members and officers could be publicly called to account if they fail this “Akujanji” pledge to conduct free, fair and clean elections, in particular in the following areas:
Election Commission secretary Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said that candidates who breached the “Akujanji” by resorting to unhealthy practices, including aggressive campaigning, may be disqualified.
If the Election Commission is serious in wanting to ensure free, fair and clean election campaigns, the “Akujanji” pledge proposed for candidates should be comprehensive enough to provide for the disqualification of candidates who either directly or through their agents or political parties are involved in unfair electoral practices like money politics , abuse of government machinery and resources, and unfair media practices.
For instance, when Parliament stands dissolved during a general election and there is only a care-taker government, Cabinet Ministers should not abuse government positions, machinery, resources and funds for any electioneering purpose for a political party. A candidate who benefits from any such “unhealthy” and dishonest practices, as campaigning assistance by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or Cabinet Minister through the abuse of their government positions or misuse of public funds and resources, should be subject to disqualification.
Is the Election Commission prepared to ensure that the “Akujanji” it has formulated for candidates are wide enough to cover the most blatant forms of dishonest and unhealthy electoral practices, apart from drawing up an “Akujanji” code for the Election Commission Chairman, members and officers themselves?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman