Malaysia’s Election Commission needs to roam alone like a lion

Malaysia’s Election Commission needs to roam alone like a lion

By: K Pragalath

“Only pigs come in hordes, the lion roams alone.”

The above line was stated by actor Rajinikanth in the Tamil movie Sivaji that was produced in 2007.

This is precisely how Malaysia’s Election Commission (EC), now headed Azhar Harun needs to act in the face of continued flouting of election regulations.

On Apr 11, Umno acting president Mohamad Hasan of Barisan Nasional claimed that the EC is biased in favour of the ruling Pakatan Harapan.

A day later, Azizan denied the claim. He told the media that the EC noted eight election offences each was committed by both BN and PH.

On election day, Azizan bemoaned the fact that the contesting parties set up election booths even though there was no necessity to do so.

Then there was also the case of PKR members checking on a police car and the recording went viral on social media. 

Currently if an offence is committed, witnesses are required to record it as evidence and lodge a police report. The police investigate the complaint and sends their report to the Attorney General Chambers.

Malaysia’s Election Offences

The most relevant act in this case is the Electoral Offences Act. Section 4 covers offences committed by election officials whereas 4A is specifically on the offence of promoting ill will and hostility committed by any individuals linked to the election.

Offences covered include electoral offences, corrupt practices such as impersonation, treating, undue influence and bribery as listed in Part III Corrupt Practices.

If one is convicted, the maximum punishment that can be imposed is two years imprisonment, RM5,000 fine and five-year ban from contesting for public office.

The former Cameron Highlands MP Datuk C Sivarraajh of the MIC is undergoing the ban now.  I can’t recall any candidate being imprisoned for whatever electoral offences that they have committed.

The EC under Azhar Harun needs to emulate its Indian counterpart to transform itself into a lion with powers to enforce the law as well. 

Malaysians saw the abundant flouting of electoral laws during the by-election that has already been described above. 

While these were going on, the Indian Election Commission slapped a suspension on NaMo TV and barred it from presenting political advertising.

The polling agency also cancelled polls in one parliamentary seat in the state of Tamil Nadu as the candidate was set to bribe voters.

These are just two examples of the width of powers that the Indian EC has in ensuring a free and fair election in the world’s largest democracy.

Some may ask, why India? We have already emulated India’s usage of inedible ink so why not more to make Malaysia’s EC an institution to reckon with?

Amending penalties

Urgent amendments need to be made to the Election Offences Act to include offences such as the unlawful checking of party members on police vehicles instead of relying on provisions in the Penal Code.

Amendments also needs to be done on those penalized and the penalty. Current penalties limit the penalties to the candidate and individuals involved in committing an offence.

Amendments need to be made to disqualify the contesting party in the by-election. For example, if a supporter, campaigner or candidate commits an offence, the contesting party should be disqualified.  If the party concerned won the by-election, its victory should be declared null and void.

Under these circumstances, other parties within the same alliance should be allowed to contest the seat.

Only when the above action is taken, everyone involved in the elections would toe the line.

On that note, EC also should be given the powers to prosecute.  Only then, the Malaysian EC can roam alone like a lion.

K Pragalath is a team member of The Leaders Online.

The above is the opinion of the writer and may not reflect the stand taken by The Leaders Online.

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