Postponement of Sabah Elections date decision by Elections Commission throws into doubt its independence and impartiality as provided for by Constitution

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, March 5, 1986:

Postponement of Sabah Elections date decision by Elections Commission throws into doubt its independence and impartiality as provided for by Constitution

The postponement by the Elections Commission of its decision on the date for the Sabah state general elections because of some ‘administrative problem’ is nonsensical and ridiculous.

It throws into doubt whether the Elections Commission is independent and impartial as provided for by the Malaysian Constitution, or whether it is a servant of the ruling party.

The Elections Commission Chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Talib, said that the commission had not received its allocation of about $1 million to hold the election.

If the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, should immediately announce the dissolution of Parliament and State Assemblies, would the Elections Commission tell the Prime Minister that the Election Commission has no money to conduct general elections?

The Elections Commission had repeatedly said that it was ready to conduct national general elections any time, but it seemed unready to conduct a Sabah state general elections.

It would appear tht the Elections Commission is waiting for the ‘green light’ from the top, in order to fix the dates for the Sabah general elections.

It is open secret that the Prime Minister would like to hold early general elections, probably in late – April or early – May, although he is now facing with many intractable problems. There is therefore a possibility that the Prime Minister would prefer to hold simultaneous national general elections with the Sabah state general elections.

However, this was political question andissue which has nothing to do with the Elections Commission when carrying out its constitutionally-entrusted task to conduct fair and free elections.

The Election Commission should hold an immediate meeting to announce the dates for the Sabah general elections, if it is not to strengthen public impression that even in the fixing of election dates, the Election Commission must wait the signal from the Prime Minister’s office.

The Elections Commission should be aware that it should conduct its responsibilities independently and impartially or it would undermine public confidence in the entire electoral process.

After the Philippines Presidential elections, the Malaysian people expect a higher standard of performance, both in terms of independence , impartially and effectiveness, from the Elections Commission.

I am most unhappy that the Elections Commission does not seem to realize that it has a constitutional duty to review the electoral laws and process to ensure that elections are held in a clean, honest, fair and free manner.
Call on Police to be impartial in administering the law and approve public rallies for DAP beginning with Butterworth on Friday, March 7

UMNO sources have said that despite the latest UMNO crisis, arising from the resignation by Datuk Musa Hitam as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs and UMNO Deputy President, the Prime Minister’s nation-wide tour would go on and he will continue to hold public rallies in the state that he would be visiting, namely:
Federal Territory: March 9
Perak : March 13-14
Terengganu : March 20-21
Kelantan : March 27-28
Selangor : March 30
Sarawak : April 3-4

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, had been holding illegal public rallies throughout the country previously, until he was challenged recently over his Butterworth public rally where I sought a court injunction to stop it because of its illegality. As a result, the police issued a public rally for the Prime Minister’s Butterworth public rally.

In these public rallies, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed was more the Barisan Nasional President, conducting a pre-election campaign to win public support for the Barisan Nasional parties, than as Prime Minister. The fact that he was touring the state more in his political capacity than in his capacity as Prime Minister is further fortified by his cancellation of his Sabah trip.

If the police could give a public rally permit to Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed for his political speeches, then other opposition parties are equally entitled to the same facility, unless the police practises double standards and discrimination.

Section 27 of the Police Act, 1967, under which the police issued apermit for Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir’s public rally in Butterworth provided that any person wishing to convene a public meeting should apply for a licence from the police. The section said that if the police officer in charge of the police district ‘is satisfied that the meeting is not likely to be prejudicial to the interest of the security of the Federation or any part thereof or to excite a disturbance of the peace, he shall issue such a licence……’

Section 27 in fact makes it mandatory for the police to issue the permit for a public meeting, unless ‘the police is satisfied that it would prejudice public security or peace’.

If the Prime Minister’s 20,000 public rally at Butterworth (the police licence gave permission for a 50,000 crowd) does not constitute a threat to public security or peace, surely a DAP public rally of a few thousands would not cause a breakdown of public law and order.

I hope the Police will be impartial and neutral of political bias in the administration of laws and regulations, and would not practise double standards or discrimination. I therefore call on the police to approve permits for the series of public rallies which the DAP had applied far as a counter to the Prime Minister’s public rallies, starting with a public rally in Butterworth on Friday, march 7, 1986 at the very same spot the Prime Minister had his public rally. We have applied for public rallies to be held in Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca as well.

The DAP will take the Police the court if it practises political bias in administering the Police Act 1967, for it would constitute a gross abuse of power and therefore unlawful exercise of its duties.