Q&A WITH EC CHAIR­MAN ON GE14

230,000 peo­ple have been trained, RM4 mil­lion will be spent on GE14, says chair­man

New Straits Times - - FRONT PAGE - KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my VEENA BABULAL

WITH the 14th Gen­eral Elec­tion (GE14) spec­u­lated to be just around the cor­ner, elec­tion fever is well and truly upon us, with po­lit­i­cal par­ties and vot­ers keenly await­ing the dates to be an­nounced.

How­ever, the re­spon­si­bil­ity of en­sur­ing the polls pro­ceed smoothly lies squarely on the shoul­ders of the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion (EC). New Straits Times speaks to EC chair­man Tan Sri Hashim Ab­dul­lah on the com­mis­sion’s prepa­ra­tions for GE14.

Ques­tion: What is the sta­tus of EC’s prepa­ra­tions for GE14? An­swer: Our prepa­ra­tions fo­cus on two ar­eas — man­power and lo­gis­tics.

On the for­mer, we have trained about 230,000 peo­ple in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the polls, and they are equipped to han­dle elec­tion du­ties.

In terms of lo­gis­tics, we have ex­am­ined polling cen­tres na­tion­wide, such as schools and com­mu­nity halls. We have also iden­ti­fied lo­ca­tions where we will set up tents, and have even pre­pared wheel­chairs.

An es­ti­mated RM4 mil­lion will be spent on this elec­tion. We are on standby for polling day.

Q: What is EC’s view on the op­po­si­tion’s call for ex­ter­nal ob­servers for GE14?

A: We will be invit­ing ob­servers from elec­tion com­mis­sions from sev­eral Com­mon­wealth and Asean coun­tries.

We will also be ex­tend­ing this in­vi­ta­tion to po­lit­i­cally-neu­tral NGOs.

We al­low can­di­dates to place their agents in each vot­ing stream within these polling cen­tres. It’s im­por­tant that the agents be­come ob­servers. This is so that they can see for them­selves the count­ing process. They can also see all the go­ings-on at every vot­ing stream.

We will be pub­lish­ing the names of can­di­dates and ob­servers who are not present. I’m do­ing this be­cause there have been many ac­cu­sa­tions hurled against EC, such as sup­posed fraud, run­ning away with bal­lot boxes or even chang­ing them.

There have been cases where vis­its to polling cen­tres showed that the ob­server seats were empty. Can­di­dates must en­sure that there are ob­servers for each shift.

Q: How do you re­spond to claims that chang­ing the con­stituen­cies of vot­ers and the re­de­lin­eation ex­er­cise are strate­gies to en­sure a BN vic­tory? A: There is a sys­tem to ev­ery­thing. This is meant to up­date ad­dresses to en­sure that vot­ers live there. We or­gan­ise pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tions to en­sure that the voter who has been ob­jected to lives in the ad­dress stated.

If there are five peo­ple liv­ing at your ad­dress who you do not know about, wouldn’t you ob­ject? EC can­not do this (cut their names) with­out an ob­jec­tion.

This is not about peo­ple liv­ing in Kuala Lumpur and vot­ing in their home­town in Ke­lan­tan or else­where. Giv­ing an ad­van­tage to any party is be­yond our role or pur­pose.

Q: Wed­nes­day (yes­ter­day) was the last day for the re­de­lin­eation ex­er­cise in Se­lan­gor. What are your views on this? A: This is a nor­mal process. This means that we have com­pleted the first round. We hear the ob­jec­tions, and af­ter hear­ing them for the sec­ond time, EC will use its dis­cre­tion to get a re­port done on whether these ob­jec­tions are valid or oth­er­wise.

EC can, by law, sub­mit the re­port on the pro­pos­als to the prime min­is­ter.

It is up to Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak to bring it to the De­wan Rakyat or not. If he ta­bles it, MPs would then de­bate it and then it would be sub­mit­ted back to us. We will base our de­ci­sion on what is de­cided in the De­wan Rakyat.

In Se­lan­gor, the is­sue is de­layed due to ob­jec­tions brought to court. We will abide by the court’s de­ci­sion.

Q: You have pre­vi­ously sug­gested that em­ploy­ers set up a sec­re­tariat to mon­i­tor em­ploy­ees who go out to vote. Why? A: There are coun­tries which do this to gauge the num­ber of em­ploy­ees who do not vote.

The work­ers tell the sec­re­tariat that they are go­ing out to vote and call them back when they are done. The com­pa­nies can then en­cour­age staff mem­bers who have yet to vote to go and do so.

While we can­not force em­ploy­ers to set up such sec­re­tar­iats, this can go a long way to­wards en­cour­ag­ing Malaysians to ex­er­cise their con­sti­tu­tional right.

Q: Will EC be al­low­ing Pakatan Hara­pan to use the ‘PH’ name and logo dur­ing GE14?

A: As long as the Registry of So­ci­eties al­lows it, we do not have an is­sue. We have many other lo­gos for par­ties to use.

Q: The op­po­si­tion has la­belled GE14 a ‘dirty elec­tion’. They did the same in pre­vi­ous polls. What is EC’s stand on this? A: When it comes to the op­po­si­tion, there is al­ways some­thing wrong. In the end, peo­ple will re­alise this and not be in­flu­enced by it. There are many who sym­pa­thise with EC.

PIC BY MOHD YUSNI ARIF­FIN

Elec­tion Com­mis­sion chair­man Tan Sri Hashim Ab­dul­lah speak­ing at a voter educa­tion pro­gramme in Petaling Jaya yes­ter­day.

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