The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) condemns the manipulation and abuse of power by the Electoral Commission on nomination day, yesterday, 28 April 2018 in several seats that compromised the integrity of the general election right from the beginning.
It is a disgraceful start to the 2018 general election when candidates are denied their constitutional rights to be nominated and voters denied their right to choices of candidates arbitrarily and unlawfully by the Electoral Commission.
There are three key cases among the list of issues on nomination day that Bersih 2.0 finds to be in violation of clean and fair elections:
1) The disqualification of Batu candidate Tian Chua (PKR – PH)
The Electoral Commission has clearly overstepped its boundaries in arbitrarily rejecting Tian Chua’s nomination, especially since Tian’s candidacy was accepted in the last general elections after the issue of the RM2,000 penalty had been clarified in a Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment in 2010, when the presiding judge Ghazali Cha ruled that the RM2,000 fine to disqualify a member of Parliament in Section 48(1)(e) of the Federal Constitution shall be RM2001 or above.
This judgment was respected by the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat Pandikar Amin when he ruled that Tian Chua be maintained as member of Parliament. The Electoral Commission was silent at that time.
On what legal basis and authority did the returning officer of Batu, Anwar Mohd Zain, overturn a court judgment? The arbitrary decision of the returning officer and the Electoral Commission is clearly not in accordance with the law and is done in bad faith. The absolute power of the returning officer in deciding the acceptance of candidacy must be reviewed.
2) Denial of entry to Rantau candidate Dr S Streram (PKR – PH) into the nomination centre
Amino Agus Suyub, the returning officer for the Rantau state seat, the Electoral Commission and the police should not have denied the candidate entry for failing to produce a pass issued by the commission, as the constitutional right to nomination of citizens should be upheld over any technical formalities. This is especially significant given that the pass is not a requirement by law but rather an administrative procedure by the Electoral Commission.
Bersih 2.0 also finds that the insistenc that the insistence on a pass is not necessarily practiced consistently as Kuala Kubu Baru incumbent Lee Kee Hiong was able to enter the nomination centre despite not having a pass.
Amino Agus Suyub, the Electoral Commission and the inspector general of police must answer for the double standards applied in this case. Police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun denied the role of police in stopping the candidate from entering the nomination centre when videos that recorded the incident clearly show the police played a part in it.
With the inspector general’s assertion that the police acted to help the Electoral Commission, the returning office for Rantau and the Electoral Commission must now answer on what legal basis that Streram was barred from entering the nomination centre.
3) Lack of transparency and due process over nomination of Ketari candidate Lau Hoi Keong (Gerakan – BN)
Bentong district officer-cum-returning officer Azhar Arshad must answer for the lack of transparency and due process with regard to the identity card of BN candidate Lau Hoi Keong.
Azhar is accountable not only to the Electoral Commission but to the people and voters of the country when it comes to transparency and clean elections. Why did he disallow the candidates from other parties from checking Lau’s identity card? If it is true that the address of the candidate has been changed on the electronic chip, this could be easily verified by displaying the information to the media and other stakeholders present at the nomination centre.
These attempts to compromise the general election by denying the right of candidates to contest fairly in the elections is also an assault on democracy and an insult to the right to vote. The respective returning officers, the Electoral Commission, the police and the two officials from the National Registration Department must answer for their role in subverting clean, free and fair elections to 14m voters in Malaysia.
The three cases highlight that the nomination process for elections in the country should be thoroughly reformed. The nomination procedures should protect the constitutional rights of citizens to run in election and such important rights shall not be trumped by arbitrary decisions by the returning officers or the Electoral Commission at their whims and fancies on petty technical grounds.
Bersih 2.0 calls on all stakeholders including political parties, candidates, civil society and voters to take a stand for clean and fair elections by reporting incidents of electoral fraud and cheating to aduan.pemantau.org OR whatsapp us at 011-17721546 OR call us at 017-8725418/ 017-8725419.
Keluar mengundi, kalahkan pencuri.
Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee
Detailed acounts of the three cases compiled from various reports
Tian Chua (PKR – PH)
Bersih 2.0 finds the Electoral Commission rejection of Tian Chua’s nomination on account of paying a court fine of RM2,000 earlier this year, citing Article 48 of the Federal Constitution. This article states that an elected representative is disqualified if he is sentenced to more than 12 months’ jail or fined more than RM2,000. However, the judge who presided over the case made it clear that this fine will not bar him from carrying out his duties as an elected member of Parliament.
The Electoral Commission has clearly overstepped its boundary in arbitrarily rejecting Tian Chua’s nomination. Clearly, paying a fine of RM2,000 is not the same as “more than RM2,000” as stated in the Constitution. Additionally, the judge who presided over the case explicitly mentioned that the fine was reduced to RM2,000 for the sole reason of ensuring that his conviction is not in violation of Article 48 of the constitution.
Lau Hoi Keong (Gerakan – BN)
Bersih 2.0 finds that the Electoral Commission acted with bias in the nomination of Lau, when his nomination was accepted despite his identity card stating that his address in Kuala Lumpur.
Demands by representatives of the opposition that the BN candidate produce his identity card as proof of his eligibility to contest in the elections were ignored when this information was received at around 10.30am. Two suspicious individuals without identification tags who later identified themselves as officers from the National Registration Department, announced that although the identity card does not reflect an address in Pahang, Lau had applied for the transfer in his address. A slip of paper – allegedly a temporary identity card slip – was produced, folded and kept without once showing it those present on the grounds that the slip is now the property of the Electoral Commission.
The lack of transparency in this case is highly suspicious and does not bode well in terms of strengthening the integrity of the Electoral Commission.
Prevention of Rantau candidate Dr S Streram (PKR – PH) from entering the nomination centre
Bersih 2.0 finds that the police had unfairly denied Streram entry to the nomination centre. Inspector general of police Mohamad Fuzi Harun stated that his police force acted upon the instructions of the Electoral Commission when they barred Streram from entry upon his failure to produce a pass issued by the commission.
Streram was eventually allowed to submit his nomination papers through an intermediary but was rejected on the grounds that his application was received three minutes past the 10.00am deadline.
According to the candidate, he only heard from a fellow PKR candidate that he was supposed to have a pass at 5pm on Friday, 27 April 2018; and when he arrived to collect the pass at 6.45pm, the office had already been closed and he was told that he could obtain the pass in the morning on nomination day.