by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Saturday, 24.2.1990:
Election Commission caught red-handed as obeying the secret directives of UMNO Baru and Government to conduct snap voters’ registration exercise to benefit UMNO Baru and change election rules
The Election Commission has been caught red-handed as breaching the Constitutional provisions stipulating that it should enjoy public confidence by being independent of all political parties, including the ruling government of the day, in carrying out its constitutional duties to be responsible for all aspects in the conduct of elections.
A month ago, I went public to state that I had strong reasons to believe that the Barisan Nasional government, worried about its prospects in the next general elections, in particular about its ability to win a two-thirds parliamentary majority, has decided to manipulate and tamper with the elections machinery, mechanism and regulations, as well as interfere with the constitutional independence of the Election Commission.
Secret UMNO Baru directive to Election Commission in early January to register voters
I also revealed that the UMNO Baru and the government had in early January issued a secret directive to the Election Commission to carry out a snap voters’ registration campaign beginning on March 1, primarily to register the 300,000 UMNO Baru members who had not registered themselves as the voters.
I also revealed that the Election Commission, instead of defending its Constitutional powers and defy such ‘an improper and unconstitutional interference with its independence, had meekly submitted to the secret directive of UMNO Baru.
The Election Commission made secret preparations for the snap 27-day voters’ registration exercise which was to begin on March 1 immediately after it had received the secret directive from UMNO Baru, although the Election Commission had not yet completed the preparation of the 1989 electoral rolls incorporating the voters registered last year.
This is why when I repeatedly challenged, the Election Commission to deny that it had planned a snap voters’ registration exercise beginning on March 1 in the past four weeks, no one in the Election Commission dared confirm or deny. To confirm, when the electoral roll for 1989 was not ready, would be admit an action which was grossly improper and even unconstitutional. Yet, it could not deny, for what I said was one hundred per cent true.
UMNO Baru’s second secret directive to Election Commission to change new counting system at polling centres
I had also revealed that the UMNO Baru, fearful of losing the two-third Barisan Parliamentary majority, would be tampering with the elections mechanism and regulations. I had at that time been told that one of the new election regulation changes UMNO Baru had demanded is for the introduction of counting in the respective polling centres, where the votes are cast.
Up to now, the counting is centralised in a counting centre in the parliamentary constituency. UMNO Baru now believes that the new system of counting in the respective polling centres would be more beneficial to them.
This has been confirmed by the announcement by the UMNO Secretary-General and Information Minister, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat, that there would be changes to the system of counting for the next general elections. It is obvious that this change in the counting system for the general elections is not the proposal of Election Commission, but the second secret directive from UMNO Baru to Election Commission.
Recently, the government gazette announced changes in several election regulations which are preparatory to the implementation of such a second UMNO Baru secret directive.
How can the Election Commission command public confidence and respect when it violates its constitutional duty to be independent, and operate to the dictates of the secret directives of UMNO Baru?
At the rate things are going, the Election Commission has become an election bureau of UMNO Baru and Barisan Nasional Government, serving the interests of UMNO Baru and Barisan Nasional, rather than the interests of the nation to conduct fair and free elections to ensure full flowering of parliamentary democracy in Malaysia.
An Election Commission which is mindful of its constitutional responsibilities would have invited all political parties, regardless of whether they are ruling or in opposition, to discuss any changes in election rules and regulations, as well as all mechanics with regard to voters’ registration and conduct of elections.
Instead, the Election Commission waits for secret directives from the UMNO Baru and the Government, and act on their behest, springing surprises on the Opposition parties.
All Malaysians who are concerned about democracy and human rights must be concerned about the Election Commission receiving and obeying the secret directives of UMNO Baru and the Barisan Nasional Government