By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 29th September 1994:
Is Election Commission seems to be having ‘clod feet’ in its call for a ‘free, fair and clear’ general elections, and its earlier strident calls to ensure that the next general election would have these three important attributes of a democratic elections have become very ‘muted’.
It will be very sad for the liberalization and democratization of Malaysia if the Election Commission should backtrack from is earlier call for ‘free, fair and clean’ general elections, before any headway had been achieved, just because of certain adverse reactions from those in power.
We know for instance that among those among strongly opposed to having a ‘free, fair and clean’ general elections are the MCA, Gerakan and MIC leaders apart from certain elements in UMNO itself.
The Election Commission should realize that its credibility is at stake, as it has never been fully independent as intended by the Malaysian Constitution to fulfil its constitutional responsibility to conduct ‘free, fair, and clean’ general election.
Up to now the Election Commission cannot pass the five tests as to whether it is an independent body and conducts ‘free, fair and clean’ general elections. These five tests are:
Test No.1: Is the Election Commission free to decide on nomination and polling dates for general elections without having to act on the secret directive from the Prime Minister’s office?
In 1990 for instance, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed announced on October 4 that Parliament would be dissolved the next day on October 5.
The Election Commission was in Ipoh at the time for a meeting, and when Parliament was dissolved on October 5, the Election Commission had to schedule an emergency meeting the same evening to announce the nomination in the next few days and polling dates of October 21 and 22.
The Election Commission has 60 days under the Malaysian Constitution to conduct general elections once parliament is dissolved, and there is no reason whatsoever why the Election Commission had to meet in emergency session to fix immediate dates for nomination and polling unless there was a secret directive from the Prime Minister’s Office.
If the Election Commission is really independent, then it should be free to fix nomination and polling dates for general elections without having to act in haste comply with a secret time-table decided by the Prime Minister’s Office.
In fact, the Election Commission should consult with all political parties before fixing the dates for nomination and polling!
Furthermore, the Election Commission should allow for an adequate period for general elections campaign between nomination and polling, which must be at least three weeks, so that the various political parties and the candidates have time to explain their platforms and political stands to the electorate.
Test No.2: Is the electoral roll of the Election Commission clean and honest, where there are no tens or even hundreds of thousands of ‘phantom voters’?
Test No.3: Can the Election conduct ‘free, fair and clean’ general elections, where a;; political parties enjoy equal mass media access, including equal radio and television time and where public rallies are allowed?
Test No.4: Can the Election Commission disqualify votes cast in a manner which violates the secrecy of the vote, as for example in the case of the 200,000 postal ballots as the security authorities have refused to allow political parties and candidates to monitor the entire postal ballot voting process?
Test No.5: Has the Election Commission the power to convene an All-Party Conference to discuss how to make the next general election the most ‘free, fair and clean’ general election in Malaysia history?
If the Election Commission cannot pass these five tests, then it has failed its constitutional responsibility to command public confidence because of its independence and impartiality.