Electoral Commission’s additional conditions limit expression of political parties

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Source: freemalaysiatoday.com

The Coalition of Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) questions the necessity and rationale behind the additional conditions imposed by the Electoral Commission on campaign materials that prohibit the photos of other individuals to appear either alone or along with the candidate, except for the president and deputy president of the political party of the candidate.

In view of the other larger electoral issues that require the immediate attention of the Electoral Commission to come out with clear guidelines such as discrepancies in the electoral roll, caretaker government, postal voting, advance voting, it is surprising that the Electoral Commission chose to focus on regulating the campaign materials of political parties.

There have been no problems with featuring other individuals in the campaign materials of political parties in the past 13 general elections. Why are these additional regulations suddenly needed now?

Will banners, posters, billboards of ceramah, events and activities that features speakers other than the candidate, president and deputy president of the party of the candidate be removed from the constituency? Will the Electoral Commission now remove all the posters, billboards and digital screens in Kuala Lumpur that feature Tengku Adnan when he is not a candidate for any parliamentary seat in Kuala Lumpur but Putrajaya?

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If implemented, these regulations will effectively ban the appearance of photos of Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim in all constituencies run by Pakatan Harapan under the logo of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

Meanwhile, the Barisan Nasional will have no problems featuring the photos of Najib Razak as the caretaker Prime Minister and Zahid Hamidi as the caretaker Deputy Prime Minister in their materials as they are the president and deputy president of Barisan Nasional.

Bersih 2.0 holds that the sudden imposition of these new regulations, without consultation with all stakeholders, at the eleventh hour of nomination day, is unreasonable, unfair and a violation of the freedom of expression of political parties. We call for these additional regulations to be withdrawn immediately.

Earlier, the Electoral Commission had also amended the regulations and made counting of votes to be conducted simultaneously for state and parliamentary seats on polling day without consultation with all stakeholders. We call the Electoral Commission to stop such arbitrary amendments of the regulations and urge it to consult all stakeholders before any future amendments.

Bersih 2.0 steering committee

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Ravinder Singh

Dr Mahathir is Prime Minister designate. Why can’t his picture be used in posters? What is wrong for the opposition to show the face of their PM designate? The EC said it could cause confusion. What confusion will it cause? It is unbecoming of the EC to make new rules to create disadvantages for the opposition. Imagine if the referee of a football match creates some new rules for the team challenging the incumbent champions, so that the incumbents have advantage of the challengers! Voters must remember that the EC is just an agency sitting in the PM’s Department, meaning it is under the control of the PM. So who is behind the setting of these new rules?