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Abdul Rashid: Election system needs review

PUTRAJAYA, 30 Dec 2008: Election Commission (EC) chairperson Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said the country’s election system needs to be reviewed to give the commission autonomous power and total control over the election process, including over the media.

Speaking on his last day in office after 25 years of service, the retiring EC chairperson said a review was necessary to stop others from making accusations against the commission.

“The EC has to defend itself against accusations that it is toothless. How can we act when the rules do not allow us? The rules are there but our action cannot satisfy everyone,” he told reporters at the ground breaking ceremony for the site of the new EC headquarters here.

The building, costing between RM70 to RM80 million, is in the shape of a ballot box and is scheduled for completion in two years.

Abdul Rashid, 66, will be replaced by Home Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof effective tomorrow.

His service was extended by another year after the Dewan Rakyat passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2007 to extend the retirement age for EC members from 65 to 66 years.

Abdul Rashid who handled seven general elections said the EC, instead of other authorities, should be in control during the campaign period to tell people what to do and not to do.

“The EC should be in the position to control the total media network during elections. It should be able to tell the media their limit and the role they can play during elections.”

He proposed that a body be created to review the needs of the EC and the country’s elections laws.

However, it was up to the government whether to accept the proposal or not.

“If the government accepts the concept, then it must make appointments but if it wants to wait, then I cannot comment.

“I don’t know whether the situation warrants it or not. I am just speaking as a former chairman based on my experience.”

Abdul Rashid said he had forwarded the proposal to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and offered himself to be the adviser should the body be created.

He said other countries had similar setups during elections where the EC had full control over the election process.

“It exists in other developing countries. I feel we have to follow their footsteps as it strengthens democratic practices.”

Abdul Rashid also said he was considering taking legal action against several opposition party members for making personal attacks against him.

He declined to reveal their names but said he had adequate information and proof for his lawyer to act.

“I did not want to sue these people earlier because I did not want to drag the EC into it. Now that I have retired and am a free person, I am considering a suit against those who said so many untruthful and bad things against me,” he said. — Bernama


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