by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 24.2.1993:
Call on MCA President, Ling Liong Sik and Gerakan President, Lim Keng Yaik, to declare whether they support the amendment of the Constitution to ensure that the Election Commission is answerable to Parliament and not to the Government
The DAP has called for the amendment of the Federal Constitution to entrench the independence of the Election Commission and to expressly provide that the Election Commission is answerable to Parliament and not to the Government or UMNO leadership.
If the Federal Constitution had provided for safeguards to protect the independence of the Election Commission from any government or political interference, then the scandal of the Election Commission having to cancel its constituency redelineation exercise would never have happened.
This is because if the Election Commission had been truly independent, the Election Commission would not have to submit to the UMNO political directive to complete the constituency redelineation exercise within nine months by June 1993 to fit into the UMNO political time-table – causing the Election Commission to act illegally and unconstitutionally in its review.
After the Election Commission ‘surrendered’ to the DAP legal suit in the Kuala Lumpur High Court last week, the Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Harun Din, claimed that the redelineation review was cancelled because of a mysterious ‘technical oversight’ and that the Commission had informed the Government of its request for amendments to section 3 of the 1992 Constitution Amendment Act which increased 12 new Parliamentary constituencies.
If the Election Commission is independent, as provided for in the Constitution, then the Commission should be informing Parliament and not the Government.
An independent Election Commission would treat the government and the opposition at equal arm’s length, as how otherwise could it fulfill its constitutional mandate to be independent and impartial in the discharge of its constitutional duties to uphold the democratic process?
But this is not the case. The Election Commission has always regarded the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Ministers as their ‘masters’ while ignoring the Opposition.
This is the best proof of the lack of independence of the Election Commission.
I call on the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, whether they support the proposal for the amendment of the Constitution to expressly provide that the Election Commission is answerable to Parliament and not to the Government and to entrench the independence of the Election Commission with safeguards.
Or have the MCA and the Gerakan Presidents to get UMNO approval before they dare to support such a reasonable, straight-forward and democratic proposal?