by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, September 13, 1994:
Harun Din is wrong when he claims that the election process is 100 per cent transparent and irregularities could not easily occur, as the postal ballot system is 100 per cent opaque.
The Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Harun Din is wrong when he claims that the election process in Malaysia is 100 per cent transparent and that irregularities could not easily occur. This is because the postal ballot system involving 200,000 to 300,000 votes is 100 per cent opaque and irregularities are rife in the casting of postal ballots.
Harun dismissed as wild accusations of irregularities in the election process, including switching of ballot boxes and tampering with votes, but can the Election Commission convince Malaysians and the international community that the postal ballot system, particularly, in the casting of the postal ballots, is fair, transparent and incapable of irregularities?
In fact, the secretive and undemocratic manner in which the postal ballots are cast completely without the monitoring presence of Opposition parties and candidates, had been pointed out by international observers as one of the greatest flaws of the Malaysian election system.
The postal ballot system in Malaysia in fact violates the most important, principle of the secrecy of the ballot, for the postal voters whether in the police or security, establishments cannot exercise their right to vote without any coercion or interference, including from their superiors.
If Harun Din wants to be able to claim that the election process is 100 per cent transparent, then the Election Commission must revise regulations pertaining to postal ballots allowing for full transparency in the distribution, casting and counting of postal ballot votes.
From Harun Din’s comments yesterday, the Election Commission seems to be weakening and retreating from its earlier call for ‘free, fair and clean’ general elections, as they call for the lifting of the ban on public rallies as well as fair mass media access to all political parties during the general elections campaign.
Harun Din claims that the responsibility of the Election Commission is limited to overseeing the balloting process to ensure it was carried out in a fair manner. Other matters, including campaigning, security and media coverage are outside its jurisdiction.
Harun Din must not allow the Information Minister and UMNO Secretary-General, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat and other Barisan Nasional leaders to bully the Election Commission to give a narrow definition of its constitutional mandate and responsibility to conduct elections.
The Election Conmiission will be failing in its constitutional duty to conduct elections if it closes its eyes to its responsibility to ensure that the elections must be ‘free, fair; and clean’ – which must include jurisdiction over matters like fair campaiging conditions, fair mass media coverage and an end to all forms of electoral abuses, like money politics and the abuse and misuse of government resources, funds and machinery in the campaign of political parties.
The Election Commission should convene an All-Party Conference to discuss ways to ensuring that the next general elections will be ‘free, fair and clean’ and I will write officially to the Election Commission Chairman, Daurk Harun Din to make this proposal.
I hope the Election Commission feels it has sufficient independence to convene such an All-Party Conference without having to get prior approval from die Government parties.