Rashid's EC term a unmitigated failure

comments     Liew Chin Tong     Published     Updated

Rashid Abdul Rahman ended his term as the most controversial chairperson of the Election Commission in history recently with a promise to sue opposition politicians who criticised him previously for various faults in the electoral system.

It is laughable that Rashid suggested that ‘if they (opposition politicians) are MPs, they can lose their seat if my suit against them is successful’.

MPs will either lose their seats if they are criminally convicted or bankrupt but they won’t lose their seats for losing a civil case.

It is sad that Rashid parted with the Election Commission after 25 years of service, of which nine were as its chairperson, with such an undemocratic statement when the EC should be the guardian of democracy in the country.

Rashid’s term as EC chairperson since 2000 is undeniably an unmitigated failure. Set against the backdrop of the rising demand for democracy and fair play in elections, the EC under Rashid failed to carry out any concrete step towards instituting electoral reform.

One of the major failures rarely discussed is EC’s inability to register a third of eligible Malaysians as voters. According to EC’s Deputy Chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, there are 16.8 million Malaysians who are above 21 years old but only 10.9 million are listed on the electoral roll.

Most of the non-voters are young Malaysians below 30 years old and they mostly live in urban centres. They are the voters whom the ruling Barisan Nasional has failed to convince.

I am very concerned that the EC has ceased to allow political parties and NGOs to register new voters. My office contacted the Penang EC Office recently and has been advised that ‘there was no allocation to allow new voters to be registered by political parties and NGOs’.

I urge the new EC Chairperson, Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, to look into this as soon as possible and my office will contact him to seek clarification.

Rashid’s refusal to use the indelible ink during the March 2008 general election and for subsequent by-elections despite promising the nation in August 2007 that the ink would be used at the urging of Bersih (Coalition for Clean and Fair Election) is another colossal failure that cost EC its credibility.

Other demands by Bersih, such as revamping the electoral roll, ensuring fair media access, the abolishment of postal votes, and a three-week campaign period were not entertained at all.

I wish Rashid well in his retirement but it is impossible for the nation to ignore his failures which resulted in Malaysia’s electoral system hovering at the level of African dictatorships.

The writer is DAP MP for Bukit Bendera.

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