Friday, April 27, 2012

Election Commission: Apparent Bias

The Chairman of the Election Commission and his Deputy must resign immediately. In the wake of accusations by the Opposition that they are members of UMNO, they have admitted the same.

It is self-evident that they can no longer hold their positions as the head and deputy head of the Election Commission, a body established by the Federal Constitution for the sole purpose of ensuring that the general elections of the Federation and States are run in a manner that ensure public confidence. Put another way, as has been consistently emphasized by the Coalition on Free and Fair Elections, the Election Commission must act in a manner that is seen to be impartial.

That the perception of impartiality is of crucial significance is underscored by Article 113 of the Federal Constitution, the provision which establishes the Election Commission. 113(2) provides:

"In appointing members of the Election Commission the Yang di- Pertuan Agong shall have regard to the importance of securing an Election Commission which enjoys public confidence."

It is manifest that a member of a political party that will participate, or which may potentially participate, in any general election cannot be made members of the Election Commission. The fact that they are members of a political party is indicative of their political loyalties being to that party. This creates an obvious conflict of interest. This is reinforced in situations where the party Constitution requires allegiance, as I believe the UMNO constitution does.

In the context of UMNO, this issue takes on added significance. Accusations have been made that the Election Commission has conducted itself in a manner that lend to an impression of bias. Leave aside the question of whether there is actual bias, the fact that there is an apprehension of bias is in itself sufficient for concerns to have been raised. To this it must now be added that  the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Election Commission have been revealed to be members of UMNO. This will only fuel further speculation of bias. This in turn will add to an already high degree of resentment amongst voters about the way in which they perceive the electoral process to have been manipulated. 

It is no significance that the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman were not active members or had forgotten that they are members. The fact that they are members is in itself sufficient to create the conflict of interest. One wonders whether they would have been endorsed by the Conference of Rulers and appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (as is required under Article 113(1)) if this fact were known.

In the circumstance it appears that there is little choice in the matter. The Chairman and the Deputy Chairman must resign. It cannot end there though. The Government must take steps to convince Malaysians that measures that have been taken thus far with regard the imminent General Election have been consistent with the highest expectations of a clean and fair election. If the Government calls for a General Election under this cloud, then it will reinforce the belief of many Malaysians that the electoral process has been hijacked. 

MIS







4 comments:

Old Fart said...

In other words these two gentlemen lied to the Rulers. The Prime Minister under whose advise the Rulers are "bound" to act would have also lied when he impressed upon them that they would be getting these very independent minded gentlemen to be Elections Commission Chairman and Deputy Chairman. Does that mean that it is quite alright to lie to our Rulers?

Anonymous said...

Only in Malaysia! Malaysia Boleh!!

Tiger said...

Resign?
How to do that when they do not know the word shame?
BN people have no inkling what is accountablity and transparency.

Anonymous said...

Where is the legal provision or rules and regulation for this? What was breached and how can the authorities act?

You practise the law, but you swallowed Saifuddin's "evidence" hook, line and sinker. I don't know about Abdul Aziz, but a Wan Ahmad bearing the IC supplied by Saifuddin has come forward and he is clearly not the Deputy EC. I thought it is pretty simple and straightforward, all the EC top bosses need to do is give us their IC number. A small measure to resolve a lot of confusion.

What I am disappointed is how opportunistic Bersih was and the eagerness of our so called public intellectuals in joining the lynch mob. You know what I think? I think the Chief and Deputy EC are screwed anyway. Nobody has faith in the system and now with Saifuddin's stunt, their credibility is in tatters. You know they might have been UMNO members, our EC bosses. But it is much more honest to just say that ramai yang sudah hilang kepercayaan terhadap SPR whether their bosses were once UMNO members or not.