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EC reverses decision

PETALING JAYA, 13 May 2009: The Election Commission (EC) has allowed pondok panas or party booths on polling day but they must be more than 50 metres away from polling centres.

The EC reversed its 27 April decision to ban the booths at a closed-door meeting with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) yesterday, the PR secretariat said today in a press statement.

The PR’s elections committee comprising leaders from PAS, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and DAP met with EC chairperson Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof and senior officials at the commission’s headquarters in Putrajaya yesterday.

“Both sides agreed after referring to the law that the booths for voters to check their details can be set up by all parties outside of the 50 meter zone around polling centres,” the statement said.

In past elections, the contesting political parties would set up booths along the road leading to the polling centre. Voters can check details such as which polling stream they would vote in at these booths.

When the EC initially banned the booths, Abdul Aziz said that the booths were redundant because the EC staff already provided a similar service inside the polling centre.

PR leaders had on 28 April held a press conference to explain their opposition to the ban.

They said the EC had already allowed party booths in the 2004 general elections. They also said erecting them beyond 50 metres of polling centres was in accordance with election law that bans attempts to influence voters “within a distance of fifty metres from the limits of any polling station”.

Limiting supporters

The EC had also wanted to limit the number of supporters on nomination day but yesterday agreed that it would be difficult to enforce.

As such, it has advised all parties to invite fewer supporters. In the past, supporters who came and gathered outside nomination centres had run into tens of thousands, such as in the Permatang Pauh by-election.

PR leaders at the meeting also agreed with EC that all parties should discontinue campaign activities at midnight before polling day. Both sides agreed that this rule should be enforced on all contesting parties.

In recent by-elections, campaigning in the form of approaching voters on their way to polling stations was done even on polling day itself.

EC and the PR leaders agreed to meet every three months to discuss developing matters.

PR leaders who attended the meeting were Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad  and Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud from PAS, Saifudin Nasution, Datuk Johari Abdul, Tian Chua and S Manikavasagam from PKR, Liew Chin Tong from DAP and PR legal adviser Saiful Izham.

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4 Responses to “EC reverses decision”

  1. kahseng says:

    For a sticker to “procedure” and “law,” EC’s earlier ban was not within the law. The law does allow pondok panas, only outside of 50m and no canvassing.

    The real question now is EC’s effectiveness: How does EC define the 50 meter limit? Is it from the voting room individually (within the voting center)? From the yellow tape surrounding all voting rooms behind EC booths? From the main gate of the schools (the voting center)? From the full circumference of the school fences? This is a question of geometry.

    What if EC is using a multipurpose hall above a wet market that does not have clear fences?

    Will EC publish a map for each voting center? Will EC mark the inner limit (from which 50m must be counted) with tape or other markers a few days before the election, BEFORE contractors dump their pondok for the political parties?

    It is a question of EC’s competence.

    It seems political parties got into a vicious competition because they could not tell where the 50m starts, and they were afraid the other party would gain an upper hand in “service”.

  2. kahseng says:

    This reversal is good.

    Without this reversal, this question will be hanging in the air: If PR insists on following the law to the letter and set up pondok panas, then will EC be forced to penalize the likely PR winner by declaring his victory null and void?

    If EC does not do that, it will lose further credibility. If it does that, it will risk public outcry for enforcing an illegal ruling.

    Good that it is resolved by the law now.

    EC still has to prove its competence.

  3. kip says:

    Supporters to be less invited? Do you think they are invited in the first place? Maybe some, but mostly come on their own accord to support their party and candidate.

    To the extreme, some maybe. Maybe only those ’employed’. The ’employed’ ones can be reduced. No problem with that. But those who come on their own free will should not be obstructed.

  4. ipoh mali says:

    The rakyat especially don’t need “pondok panas atau sejuk” because we are already so panas hati, that we will vote BN out from Malaysia. Mark these words.

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