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”.
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.