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Focus on reforms, Kit Siang tells EC (Updated 8.10pm)

PETALING JAYA, 21 April 2009: DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang today slammed the Election Commission (EC) for being the “mouthpiece” of the Barisan Nasional (BN) by echoing the ruling coalition’s view that by-elections were costly and burdened the people.

“It is no business of the EC to echo the view that by-elections are a waste of money. This only shows that the EC is a BN mouthpiece which doesn’t enhance public confidence.

“The EC should focus on reforming election laws and the electoral system instead,” Lim said today at a press conference at the DAP headquarters.

“The EC should also do an independent audit on why by-elections should cost so much,” he said, referring to an 18 April 2009 report by The Star.

The report said the five by-elections that have been held since the March 2008 general election have cost taxpayers a total of RM33.4 million.

It also quoted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also BN chairperson, as saying that the number of by-elections that the nation has had was draining resources.

In response, Lim said the government and political parties should just not spend so much.

“Why should by-elections be costly? Why can’t the EC halve its expenses? Why can’t the police slash their costs?” he said, adding that the heavy police presence during the recent by-elections was unnecessary.

Lim also said the EC should also look into campaign spending by political parties. Existing election law only places limits on a candidates’ expenditure, and makes no mention on spending by their parties.

“These are the things the EC should be concerned with instead of deciding whether by-elections are unnecessary or not,” Lim said.

The DAP veteran had been asked about the EC deputy chairperson’s recent statement that laws were needed to prevent unnecessary by-elections.

The BN’s accusation that Parti Keadilan Rakyat engineered the Penanti by-election as a “political ploy” has sparked a minor debate on whether the reasons for it were frivolous or not.

Lim also said the reason for Najib’s suggestion that the BN sit out of the Penanti by-election was because “he is afraid of losing Penanti”.

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