PUTRAJAYA, 23 April 2009: The delay in announcing the date for the Penanti state seat by-election is due to administrative reasons, the Election Commission (EC) clarified today.
The EC was originally supposed to announce the date tomorrow, but postponed it to 27 April.
EC chairperson Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the EC had not yet received any written notices from the owners of premises to be used as the nomination, polling and vote counting centres, as well as the written agreement from individuals to be the returning officer and assistant returning officers for the by-election.
He dismissed the perception of certain quarters that the postponement was due to outside influence.
“It has nothing to do with political interference but is an internal matter. How can we announce the (nomination and polling) dates when the administrative matters have not been finalised?” he told Bernama, here, today.
The postponement has given rise to allegations among some quarters, including PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who was quoted in Harakah as saying that the EC was no longer free and that certain individuals were determining its direction.
The by-election is called following the resignation of the incumbent assemblyperson and Penang Deputy Chief Minister I, Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, 33, on 16 April amid the party’s internal conflict and allegations of corruption against him.
Abdul Aziz who today chaired a meeting with political party representatives from Barisan Nasional and the opposition on the full enforcement of the Election Offences Act 1954, said more meetings would be held to avoid problems such as those pertaining to public and voter safety.
On allegations that the EC was a BN stooge by suggesting that the law be amended to prevent elected representatives from vacating their seats without valid reasons, he said it was only the EC’s opinion as the agency running the elections and was not influenced by any quarters.
He said although it was the individual’s right to resign, but holding by-elections, especially one after another, was costly and involved a lot of work and manpower.
On the report in The Sun today quoting the Malaysians For Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) as saying that there were just too many police deployed during the by-elections, making them very costly, Abdul Aziz said the safety aspect was under the jurisdiction of the police force. — Bernama
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