Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at DAP Hqrs in PJ on Tuesday, 13th March 1990 at 11.30 am
Election Commission Secretary’s statement a confirmation that the Election Commission is not independent but biased and subservient to UMNO Baru and Barisan Nasional Government
The Statement by the Election Commission Secretary, Haji Rashid Abdul Rahman, yesterday denying that the current voters’ registration exercise was being conducted on the instruction of UMNO Baru was in fact a confirmation that the Eelction Commission is not independent but biased and subservient to UMNO Baru and Barisan Nasional Government.
Haji Rashid said the decision to hold the voters’ registration exercise was made at a commission meeting on Nov. 7 last year, and that the government had frequently asked the commission as to when such an exercise would be held. He said the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed himself had asked about the matter.
Haji Rashid has not been able to convincingly rebut the allegation that UMNO Baru had directed the election Commission to conduct the snap 27-day voters’ registration exercise to register 300,000 UMNO Baru members who have not yet registered as voters. It only meant that the UMNO Baru directive was issued very much earlier than I had expected.
From Haji Rashid’s own statement, that the government and the Prime Minister himself had asked many times as to when such an exercise would be held, why did the Election Commission confide only in UMNO Baru and the Barisan Nasional Government about the exercise and not make it known to all Opposition parties?
Can Haji Rashid explain why UMNO Baru leaders could go round the country by January to prepare its national machinery for the snap voters’ registration exercise, while up to the third week of February (or one week before the voters’ registration exercise), the Election Commission had refused to respond to my month-loong query as to whether such a voters’ registration exercise would be on?
Isn’t this proof that the Election Commission is no more independent, but biased and subservient to UMNO Baru and the Barisan Nasional Government?
Secondly, can Haji Rashid explain how the Election Commission could carry out an efficient voters’ registration exercise when it is unable to supply6 Opposition parties with the new 1989 Electoral Roll to help the people to check whether their names had been secretly deleted?
The Election Commission had put the blame and responsibility on the voters for not checking whether their names are on the Electoral Roll – but now could this be done, when the Election Commission is unable to make the new 1989 Electoral Roll available to all opposition parties?
UMNO Baru Secretary-General’s directive of 15th September 1989 to UMNO Divisions to nominate Assistant Registration Officers for voters’ registration exercise
Thirdly, can Haji Rashid explain how the Election Commission could be independent, when it appoints UMNO Baru members in the guise as staff of Kemas and other quasi-government officers as assistant registration officials?
Forthly, can Haji Rashid deny that the assistant registration officials for the voters’ registration exercise was appointed on the recommendation of UMNO Baru Divisions? Can Haji Rashid deny the existence of UMNO Baru circular signed by the UMNO Secretary-General, Datuk Mahamed Rahmat, the Minister of Information, dated 15th September 1989, under the heading ‘Persediaan Pilihanraya Umum dan Pendaftaran Pemilih’ (surat pekeliling ibu pejabat UMNO bil. 5/89[Tambahan]), which said that the UMNO Baru supreme Council at its meeting of 14th September 1989 had decided on eight matters which Secretaries and Executive Secretaries.
This circular, among other things stated:
“1.6: Bahagian-bahagian UMNO hendaklah mengemukakan senarai nama Penoling Pegawai Pendaftaran untuk keperluan pendaftaran pemilih yang baru.
“1.7: Perhubungan UMNO Negeri diberi maa sebulan untuk mengemukakian nama-nama itu kepada Timbalan Presiden.
“1.8: saluran membuang undi yang baru akan diwujudkan bagi memudahkan rakyat membuang undi terutamanya diluar-luar bandar. UMNO Bahagian diminta mengemukakan cadangan ke Ibu Pejabat UMNO.”
This circular from the UMNO Baru Secretary-General indicates that the directive to the Election Commission to conduct the snap voters’ registration campaign was made after the UMNO Baru Supreme council meeting of Sept. 14, leading to the Election Commission meeting of Nov. 7 to formally decide on the voters’ registration campaign.
UMNO Baru would have wanted the voters’ registration exercise to be conducted very much earlier, but his was beyond the capability and resources of the Election Commission, for it was unable to complete preparation of the new 1989 Electoral Roll in time. The earliest the Commission could start eh snap voters registration exercise was on March 1, and even for this date, the Election Commission was unable to send out the new 1989 Electoral Roll to all election officials and registration centres.
From the circular, it is the Timbalan President, who is none other than the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, who instructed the Election Commission as to the appointment of UMNO Baru nominees as assistant registration officials for the current snap voters’ registration campaign.
The evidence that the Election Commission was instructed by UMNO Baru and the Barisan Nasional Government to conduct the voters’ registration exercise are all over the country for the people to see.
Challenge to Election Commission to have public inquiry by Election Watch to prove its independence in voters’ registration exercise and conduct of clean, honest, free and fair elections
I challenge the Election Commission to submit itself to a public inquiry as to whether it had been directed by UMNO Baru to conduct the voters’ registration exercise to primarily register the 300,000 UMNO Baru members and supporters, directed by the UMNO Baru Deputy President to appoint UMNO Baru nominees as assistant registration officials, as well as other fields under the purview of the Election Commission on the conduct of elections in Malaysia.
The best body to conduct such a public inquiry will be the six-man Election Watch. The Election Commission has followed the example of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to accuse the Election Watch members, led by Tun Suffian, as ‘anti-government’.
If the Election Commission is so confident that its independence had never been compromised or undermined, whether in the boters’ registration exercise, or to carry out its Constitutional duty to conduct a clean, honest, free and fair elections, then it should invite the Election Watch to conduct a full investigation. If the Election Watch, which the Election Commission regards as “not objective”, could clear the name of the Election Commission, then its independence would be established beyond a doubt.
Are the Election Commission Chairman and members prepared to take up this challenge to prove its independence?