Saturday, 23 February 2008

Election chief says media bias will make Malaysia polls a laughingstock

Election Commission (EC) Chief Tan Sri Rashid Abdul Rahim in an interview with the Associated Press (AF) appears to lend rare support to the Opposition’s complaint of pro-government bias in the press.

The EC needs more power to prevent one-side coverage in the local media or the entire electoral system will become a "laughingstock."

"If you want free and fair elections, if you want a level playground ... you must be able to have that power to level that playground." he said.

"Without that power, then the whole system becomes a laughingstock," he said.

The commission must be able "to control the media when they take sides."

Here's the rest of the interview:

It is rare for any official connected with the electoral process to speak so candidly about the media bias.

The comments are even more surprising coming from Abdul Rashid, who has been criticized by opposition parties for refusing to acknowledge that voting rregularities occur in the country.

"In an election you have to produce what is called an informed choice. That's the principle. People must know who is contesting so publicity must be given to all, not just one section. And there are media bodies that take only one side," he told The Associated Press.

The mainstream media in Malaysia are either government-owned or controlled by the parties in the ruling coalition. They also need annually renewable government
licenses to operate.

This has ensured that virtually every newspaper and television station broadcasts flattering reports of the government. The opposition rarely gets a good mention in the papers.

The Election Commission is supposed to be an independent body, whose members are appointed by the constitutional monarch. But it is largely seen as a pro-government panel that has done little to promote electoral fairness.

Abdul Rashid indicated his hands are tied, saying the commission is in charge only of the electoral rolls and the polling process and has no power to control other irregularities, including vote-buying.

The laws need to be changed to give the commission more muscle, he said.

"Our (electoral) laws have been there for 50 years. After 50 years, I feel there must be some kind of review," he said. "There must be a law ... put in place where the EC is seen to be in full control."

Despite his frank comments that will likely be welcomed by the opposition, Abdul Rashid insisted that the electoral process itself is free, fair and transparent.

He dismissed allegations that electoral rolls, which are vetted by the Election Commission, are filled with names of dead people and people living in other constituencies. These names are used by bogus voters deployed by the ruling party, critics say.

"That never happens here. It cannot happen because the process — the polling, the counting and so on — is so transparent," he said.

"Cheating has never been proven anywhere in this country," he said, adding that the few incidents of fraud that may have taken place have been so minor that they didn't affect election results.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm.. tu maknanye dia dah nak bersara dan takut nanti org buat suruhanjaya dan charge dia macam macam... entah 2x dah ader pembangkang yg ade tape rakaman perbualan kot... agak agak..

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:18:00 AM

Mungkin apa yang sdr katakan ada kebenaran.

Beliau telah selesai tugas dengan BN - buat apa yang perlu dibuat.

Sekarang boleh buka mulut, bagi sikit "kredibiliti" pada dirinya.

Anonymous said...

What has he got to say about the latest ruling - the stamping of nomination forms?

This is nothing but a sandiwara.

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