EC – prove it is not mouthpiece/tool of BN

The time has come for the Election Commission to demonstrate that it is not the mouthpiece or tool of the Barisan Nasional government but an independent, impartial and professional Election Commission as intended by the Constitution.

Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar was quoted in the Star today as saying that the time has come to amend existing laws to prevent abuse by political parties that force elected representatives to quit their parliamentary or state seats.

He said the move by a wakil rakyat to vacate a seat to fulfil a party’s agenda should be discouraged as the cost of holding by-elections had become a burden to the country. (Star)

It is most disappointing that since the appointment of Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusuf as the new Chairman for the Election Commission at the beginning of the year, the Election Commission has made decisions and taken actions which have further undermined public confidence in its independence, impartiality and professionalism – which is quite an “achievement” considering the canyon the Election Commission had plunged into in terms of public confidence under the former Chairman.

The recent refrain by the Election Commission Chairman and Deputy Chairman, echoing the Prime Minister and the Barisan Nasional leaders, that the cost of by-elections had become a burden to the country must be challenged.

In the past few days, the mainstream media have reported that the five by-elections held since the March 8 general elections had cost Malaysian taxpayers RM33.4 million, comprising:

Election Commission Police
Permatang Pauh RM409,000 RM 2.5 million
Kuala Terengganu RM580,000 RM11.5 million
Bukit Gantang RM600,000 RM 7 million
Bukit Selambau RM400,000 RM 5 million
Batang Ai RM400,000 RM 5 million
Total RM2.4 million RM31 million = RM33.4 million

Actually, the total expenses incurred in the five by-elections are many times the total of RM33.1 million- easily by six or seven-fold – if the election expenditures of the competing political parties are taken into consideration.

The expenses incurred by the Pakatan Rakyat in the five by-elections would be negligible when compared to the total of RM33.4 million incurred together by the Election Commission and the Police.

Pakatan Rakyat candidates do not exceed the maximum expenditures permitted candidates under election laws – which is RM200,000 for a parliamentary candidate and RM100,000 for a state assembly candidate. This would mean a ceiling of RM800,000 for three parliamentary and two state assembly by-elections held since the general election last year.

How much did Barisan Nasional spend for the five by-elections, using not only party funds but also public funds, resources and machinery?

It has been estimated that the Barisan Nasional spent RM70 million in Batang Ai by-election alone. I will not be surprised if an independent and professional audit comes to a total figure of Barisan Nasional expenditures for the five by-elections in the region of some RM200 million, i.e. six or seven-fold of the RM33.4 million incurred jointly by the Election Commission and Police.

The problem is not the holding of by-elections but the corruption of the entire electoral process where elections and by-elections have become obscenely expensive. For Barisan Nasional, a by-election is a just splurge of money, not just in millions of ringgit but tens of millions of ringgit, often with the misuse and abuse of public funds!

If the election law is strictly enforced, with each candidate limited to RM200,000 for Parliament and RM100,000 for state assembly contest, and political parties banned from incurring any expenditures, and the expenditures for the Election Commission and the Police as incurred in the five by-elections slashed by 50% and 80% respectively, the question of by-elections being “a waste of time, energy and money” would not arise.

The ballooning of election expenditures to prohibitive levels for Barisan Nasional candidates is one indicator of how corruption in Malaysia has completely got out of hand in the past decade!

It is open secret that the four recent by-elections held this year under the new Election Commission Chairman were no different from previous elections and by-elections, that the election law limiting expenditures to RM200,000 per parliamentary and RM100,000 per state assembly seats were flouted by Barisan Nasional candidates, to the extent that actual Barisan Nasional expenditures run into tens of millions of ringgit each.

Had the Election Commission ever prosecuted and disqualified any Barisan Nasional candidate, whether for parliamentary and state assembly elections, for election offences for violating the election law limiting expenditures by 10, 50 or even 100 times since the new law was passed five years ago?

The cost of by-elections would not have become so burdensome if the Election Commission and Police are thrifty and economical in their expenditures.

Why was the Police spending RM11.5 million in the Kuala Terengganu by-election? In fact, Parliament was told on Feb. 18 that the police had spent RM4 million more, i.e. RM15.53 million, in the Kuala Terenggtanu by-election.

The Star of Feb. 19, 2009, under the headline “RM15 million for safe polls” reported:

POLICE operations for the Kuala Terengganu by-election on Jan 17 cost the Government some RM15.53mil, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Chor Chee Heung said.

Chor told Amran Ab Ghani (PKR – Tanah Merah) that among others, the expenditure covered costs for transport, communications and utilities, rental of canopies, supply of food and drinks, accommodation and living allowances.

“For the Kuala Terengganu by-election, the police mobilised 3,376 personnel from all divisions, including the Special Branch, Narcotics and the Criminal Investigation Department.

“Because of the extra security measures maintained by the police at the time, no untoward incident was reported,” he said.

The police also mobilised two helicopters, three armoured personnel carriers, 68 patrol cars, 296 motorcycles and 3,376 side arm rifles for the by-election.

This is not the only case of under-reporting of police expenditures in by-elections. The mainstream media in the past few days reported that police expenditures in the Permatang Puah by-election were RM2.5 million.

This is under-reported by four or five-fold if Chor had not misled Parliament, as evident from the same Star report on his same answer to Parliament on Feb. 18:

To a question from Dr Puad Zarkashi (BN – Batu Pahat), Chor said although the sum spent in Kuala Terengganu was slightly higher than for the by-election in Permatang Pauh, it was worth it because there was no tension felt at all during the campaigning period.

Can the new Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein explain the two great discrepancies in police expenditures in the two by-elections – RM4 million in Kuala Terengganu by-election and some RM10 million in Permatang Pauh by-election?

The time has come for the Election Commission to stop being a mouthpiece or tool of Barisan Nasional.

The Election Commission must demonstrate its independence, impartiality and professionalism and convene an all-party roundtable conference to introduce far-reaching reforms to election laws and the electoral system so that Malaysians can be proud of a free, fair and clean election system and to stop playing to the tune of the Barisan Nasional government to unilaterally and arbitrarily amend laws at its whim and fancy.

  1. #1 by taiking on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 2:53 pm

    Is najib on track to removing election altogether because it is too costly to him and umno? I never knew this aspect of his 1malaysia concept? It is certainly the stupidest reason ever and a downright no-brainer argument. Is 3-5million/by-election a lot of money to spend? No. Not at all. Ask any umnoputra. Ask him how much his ferrari costs, or his MB S500 costs, or his the luxury yatch costs. Two ferraris to buy democracy. That is definitely a worthwhile buy. In any event that is what we as a country stand for which is democracy. Trace back the 500m commission payout to razak baginda’s company. We could easily have 100 by-elections. Trace all the 10% commission payout to all interested parties for all government and glc contracts. The sum could well add up to tens of billions. Where are all those money? Use them!

    Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Damned it. He is just damn stupid.

    Remember this. Voters of today are not the same as voters of yesterday. Umno lost simply because they failed to meet with this reality whether by reason of pure ignorance or pure arrogance or of preserving vested interests or simply saving their arsehole. The shadow cabinet must be unveiled to the public. The time is now near. We must be ready for pakatan to take over and rule the country and set the course straight.

  2. #2 by monsterball on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 2:57 pm

    UMNO always make sure…all those top posts in….police ..election commission …judicial ….universities…are UMNO active members.
    And they think UMNO pays their huge income…and not from tax payers at all.
    Do not expect any fair comments….judgments…be it from public servants entrusted with certain powers…under UMNO government
    More than 52 years under UMNO…we can see how they use all their powers and authorities…solely to protect UMNO and their corrupted “1 Malaysia”…but divide to rule formula……no change at all..just new slogan to fool Malaysians.
    It is nice Lim Kit Siang never cease to expose UMNO and BN..for the love of the country and people…non stop…all these 52 years.
    We must also talk till we drop dead or to battle pro BN buggers ensure ..our dreams will come true… without UMNO and BN.

  3. #3 by Prasad on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 3:01 pm

    EC is trying to block escape route for PR MP who cannot take pressure from evil people to betray their party.

    I would like to see detail accounting behind these numbers claim by the EC.

  4. #4 by jbozz on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 3:02 pm

    U all still remember how the old malay man (EC Chairman) throw the EC results on the table when reporters prompted him to announce how many sits Opposition has won? that kind of 3rd world attitude still existed in Malaysia.

  5. #5 by taiking on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 3:31 pm

    Hey jbozz.

    Is that so? I never knew of such thing!! His action is an insult to democracy itself. Since democracy is the cornerstone of our contitution, that same action is also an insult to our constitution. And insulting our constitution means insulting the king, the country and her people.

    Its very serious affair. Then again chengho and gang would say “what is the big deal man.”

  6. #6 by yhsiew on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 3:37 pm

    The Penanti by-election is worth it, as it can foil BN’s attempt to offer exoneration to PR MP in exchange for defection.

  7. #7 by ekans on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 3:40 pm

    Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar was quoted in the Star today as saying that the time has come to amend existing laws to prevent abuse by political parties that force elected representatives to quit their parliamentary or state seats.

    The recent refrain by the Election Commission Chairman and Deputy Chairman, echoing the Prime Minister and the Barisan Nasional leaders, that the cost of by-elections had become a burden to the country must be challenged.

    Actually, there should be a law that forbids civil servants in the election commission from repeating like parrots the same excuses of the ruling political party/coalition for not contesting in a by-election.
    These civil servants should just shut up and do what is required by the constitution and the law, should a parliamentary or a state assembly seat becomes vacant.

  8. #8 by yhsiew on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 3:56 pm

    Anwar said the huge amount of commission payable for the purchase of submarines represented even a greater waste of national resources compared with the much smaller expense deployed for the Penanti by-election.

  9. #9 by ctc537 on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 4:10 pm

    It’s impossible to have a perfect Election Commission. As long as there were no phantom votes and other glaring cheatings in by-elections and general elections, it is okaylah. Ours hasn’t reached the stage where the election results can only be released upon the approval of the President or PM. In the Philippines in the mid 80s, the results of the Presidential election ere not released days after polling day because President Marcos had not approved of them to be released.

  10. #10 by All For The Road on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 4:21 pm

    From the statistics given in the newspapers, why is the police spending so much more than the EC in all those by-elections so far? Does the police need such a huge presence just to remain law and order? If the police can downsize its presence and logistics at future by-elections, much more can be saved!

  11. #11 by citizenwatch on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 4:36 pm


    Pakatan Rakyat and observers for fair and free election must insist the EC, among other things, to start using the indelible ink and at least for the next general elections. If democratically ‘novice’ Iraq can use it (TV showed women in purdah dipping their fingers in the ink!) in their recent elections no reason why Malaysia can’t use it. No more excuses.

  12. #12 by Godfather on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 6:25 pm

    EC to prove it is no stooge of Barang Naik ? MACC Commissioner to prove he’s no stooge too ? How about the AG ? The IGP ? Nah, no need to prove anything. We all know and they only have 4 years left in their respective positions.

  13. #13 by pwcheng on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 7:50 pm

    Just remember politicians are trained to speak for self interests and UMNO is definitely well trained for that. Never heard of them hearing such comments that by-elections are expensive until now when the are obviously suffering from by election’s phobia.

    The article below is a comment made by a Malaysiatoday reader name ez42get as a response to my article “Despite knowing, the BN did nothing except remove oil subsidy” which is published by MalaysiaToday. (Thank you Malaysiatoday).

    I believe the summary is concise and easy for anyone to understand. Enjoy

    Ez42get writes:

    Looking at the list below, it looks like the BN government are more determined to help themselves rather than the citizens.

    And this list below is not even barely exhaustive as these are the ones uncovered – the tip of the ice-berg, if you might want to put it! What lies beneath could be much larger:-

    1. The Bank Bumiputra twin scandals in the early 1980s saw US$1 billion (RM3.2 billion in 2008 ringgit)

    2. The Maminco attempt to corner the world tin market in the 1980s is believed to have cost some US$500 million. (RM1.6 billion)

    3. Betting in foreign exchange futures cost Bank Negara Malaysia RM30 billion in the 1990s.

    4. Perwaja Steel resulted in losses of US$800 million (RM2.56 billion). Eric Chia, was charged with corruption for allegedly steering US$20 million (RM64 million) to a Hong Kong-based company

    5. Use of RM10 billion public funds in the Valuecap Sdn. Bhd. operation to shore up the stock market

    6. Banking scandal of RM700 million losses in Bank Islam

    7. The sale of M.V. Agusta by Proton for one Euro making a loss of €75.99 million (RM 348 million)

    8. Wang Ehsan from oil royalty on Terengganu RM7.4 billion from 2004 – 2007

    9. For the past 10 years since Philharmonic Orchestra was established, this orchestra has swallowed a total of RM500 million

    10. In Advisors Fees, Mahathir was paid RM180,000, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil (women and social development affairs) RM404,726 and Abdul Hamid Othman (religious) RM549,675 per annum

    11. The government has spent a total of RM3.2 billion in teaching Maths and Science in English over the past five years. Out of the amount, the government paid a whopping RM2.21 billion for the purchase of information and computer technology (ICT) equipments which it is unable to give a breakdown.

    12. The commission paid for purchase of jets and submarines to two private companies Perimeker Sdn Bhd and IMT Defence Sdn Bhd amounted to RM910 million.

    13. RM300 million to compensate Gerbang Perdana for the RM1.1 billion “Crooked Scenic Half-Bridge”

    14. RM1.3 billion have been wasted building the white elephant Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities on cancellation of the Malaysia-Singapore scenic bridge

    15. RM 100 million on renovation of Parliament building and leaks

    16. National Astronaut Programme – RM 40 million

    17. National Service Training Programme – yearly an estimate of RM 500 million

    18. Eye on Malaysia – RM 30 million and another RM5.7 million of free ticket

    19. RM 4.63 billion, ’soft-loan’ to PKFZ

    20. RM 2.4 million on indelible ink

    21. Samy announced in September 2006 that the government paid compensation amounting to RM 38.5 billion to 20 highway companies. RM 380 million windfalls for 9 toll concessionaires earned solely from the toll hike in 2008 alone.

    22. RM32 million timber export kickbacks involving companies connected to Sarawak Chief Minister and his family

    Bailouts –

    23. Two bailouts of Malaysia Airline System RM7.9 billion. At a time when MAS incurring losses every year, RM1.55 million used to buy three paintings to decorate its chairman’s (Munir) office. 24. Putra transport system bailout which cost RM4.486 billion

    25. STAR-LRT bailout costing RM3.256 billion

    26. National Sewerage System bailout costing RM192.54 million

    27. Seremban-Port Dickson Highway bailout costing RM142 million

    28. Kuching Prison bailout costing RM135 million

    29. Kajian Makanan dan Gunaan Orang Islam bailout costing RM8.3 million

    30. Le Tour de Langkawi bailout costing RM 3.5 Million

    31. Wholesale distribution of tens of millions of shares in Bursa Malaysia under guise of NEP to cronies, children and relatives of BN leaders and Ministers worth billions of ringgits.

    32. APs scandal had been going on year-after-year going back for more than three decades, involving a total mind-boggling sum of tens of billions of ringgits

    33. Alienation of tens of thousands of hectares of commercial lands and forestry concessions to children and relatives of BN leaders and Ministers worth tens of billions of ringgits

    34. The massive losses by EPF and PKFTZ that runs into several billions.

    35. Travel around Malaysia and see for yourself how many white elephants like majestic arches, roads paved with fanciful bricks, designer lamp posts, clock towers, Municipal Council buildings that looks more like Istanas, extravagant places of worship, refurbishment of residences of VIPs, abandoned or under-utilised government sports complexes and buildings, etc! Combined they could easily amount to the hundreds of billions of ringgits!

    36. Since 1997, Petronas has handed out a staggering 30 billion ringgit in natural gas subsidies to IPPs who were making huge profits. In addition, there were much wastages and forward trading of Petronas oil in the 1990s based on the low price of oil then. Since the accounts of Petronas are for the eyes of Prime Minister only, we have absolutely no idea of the amount.

    Whatever amount, you bet it is COLLOSSAL! In Time Asia magazine issue on March 15 2004, South East Asian economist at Morgan Stanley in Singapore Daniel Lian, figures “that the country may have lost as much as U$$100 billion (RM320 billion) since the early 1980s to corruption.” Mind you, this is only corruption and it does not include wastages and mismanagements which could be higher!

    If the above list (which represent moneys saved) is added to the nation’s coffer and together with Petronas profits, palm oil profits and profits from rubber, tin, agriculture produce, aquaculture produce, electronic and hardware exports, etc, for the past 5 decades, we can all agree on one thing – our country could be wealthier than Venezuela who has little resources except for oil. The petrol in Venezuela is RM0.16 per litre!

  14. #14 by yyh on Monday, 20 April 2009 - 10:53 pm

    if you believe in EC and the judiciary, pigs can also fly lor.

    and dogs can climb trees too.

  15. #15 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 21 April 2009 - 3:11 am

    Of late, many parties have increased their power:

    – the Elections Commission which says it has the final say on seat vacancies

    – the Federal Court, which says it has powers to hear and decide cases arising from the Legislature, which is against the provisions of the Federal Constitution

    – Mahathir who is now turning on the screws on Najib to do his bidding

    – Rais Yatim, who wants to control the media even more to only report good things about the government or else

    and not to mention the Police Di-Mana Malaysia

    and more.

    At least Pak Lah could frustrate the Tun for a while but will Najib be strong enough? Who else will power grab?

  16. #16 by frankyapp on Tuesday, 21 April 2009 - 3:25 am

    Our EC,is it really independence ? Can the EC chairman and his deputy kindly answer this question ? The vast majority of voters think it is not.The suggestion to amend rule to prevent both assemby man and member of parliament from being forced to resign from their political party is skeptical as it favours the party in power.This itself indicates the bias attitude of the deputy chairman of the EC.The general perception is the Umno/bn have tons of money to buy over opposition elected members ,good example were the three Perak PR assemby members,hence the collapse of the elected PR state government.Should a rule is made now,isn’t it looks pretty good in favour of the government of the day to further it’s agenda to take over other PR state govenment ?.

  17. #17 by taiking on Tuesday, 21 April 2009 - 8:30 am

    Based on pwcheng’s figures: US$100b lost to corruption. Assuming there are 1000 umnoputras in the country and using equal distribution, each of them could be worth US$100m. Wow! No wonder they are fighting like crazy. No wonder they are power crazy and super mega greedy.

  18. #18 by Ken G on Tuesday, 21 April 2009 - 12:20 pm

    Umno pontificates about wastage of public funds for by-elections when they have no qualms about wasting billions for useless mega projects which benefit themselves and their cronies.

    Spending a few millions for the people to exercise their democratic rights is money well spent unlike the billions on the crooked bridge which is set to make a comeback.

    EC should just do its job instead of parroting the Umno govt. As for changing election laws, BN does not have 2/3 majority (whew!) so forget about it.

    The huge amount spend by the police is an abuse of funds. Why is it necessary to send 6000 policemen to Kuala Terengganu? Is the area at war or just holding a by-election? Is the presence of so many policemen to intimidate the voters?

    The truth has nothing to do with money. Najib is just scared of another by-election loss which will be the 5th straight loss in the peninsula.

  19. #19 by williamtan on Tuesday, 21 April 2009 - 7:01 pm

    This is truly an eye opener for me. Good post Mr. Lim. Wish you good health and long life.

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