Tuesday, February 4, 2014

EC: No power to act on smear campaign

PETALING JAYA: The Election Commission (EC) has no power to stop any smear campaign prior to the nomination day of a particular by-election.

Its chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof told FMT today that the commission could only bear responsibility during the campaign period.
When asked to comment on Padang Serai MP N Surendran’s call for the EC to summon Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on the smear campaign against Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim in the Kajang by-election, Abdul Aziz simply said that politicians know that they should follow the laws.

“All politicians know the laws of the election campaign and the code of ethics during campaign period.
“So not only Barisan Nasional (BN) but everyone must co-operate, understand and follow the law,” he said, stressing that the law was not something new.
Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan yesterday said it was important to explain to voters Anwar’s alleged sex videos and sodomy case so that voters could make an informed choice on polling day.
Surendran who is also PKR vice president in a statement today said that since such strategy would have had Najib’s backing, the latter should bear responsibility.
He added that the EC chairman must be proactive in defending the integrity of the election process as it was Abdul Aziz’s constitutional duty to do so under Article 113 of the Federal Constitution.
Abdul Aziz however lamented how he has reminded political parties time and time again to follow the code of ethics but the problem lies with the politicians who like to say something but do something else.
“If politicians of all parties follow the rules, the campaign will be peaceful,” he said, adding that reminders will be made again during EC’s announcement on Feb 5.
He also gave assurance that election officials will monitor the campaign.
“We have election officials to monitor during the campaign. If they find any wrongdoing, they will take the necessary action,” he said, expressing hope for everyone involved to simply follow the rules.
When contacted, Surendran said it was a pathetic excuse on Abdul Aziz’s part to claim that the EC bears no responsibility prior to nomination day.

“What he said was incorrect as according to Article 113 of the Federal Constitution, he must safeguard the integrity of the electoral process.
“If at any point of time there is something that can undermine the democratic process, he has the duty to come out and censure it,” said Surendran.
He then explained how the EC chairman has ‘great powers’.
“His provision is protected. The government cannot even touch him,” he said.

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