EC Chief Slams Campaign Rule Critics, Calls It Political

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Calling it political, Election Commission (EC) chairman Azhar Azizan Harun hit out at critics of police licensing requirements for election campaigns, saying the remarks were “driven by bad faith”.

He named Barisan Nasional’s (BN) parliamentary leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who insinuated that the EC was partisan by saying: “Now there is a new rule. I don’t understand the EC. They are supposed to be an independent body, not controlled by the government.”

“The allegation is baseless at best and at its worst, political in nature.

“It is probably even driven by bad faith,” Azhar told The Malaysian Insight.

He said the EC was not involved in the new police permit requirements for walkabouts and door to door visits in Tanjung Piai because it was a police decision.

“In the case of Tg Piai, the police have decided to impose a new requirement for permits, even for walkabouts and house-to-house visits.

“The SPR has nothing to do with that requirement and is not able to impose its will on the police,” he said, using the Bahasa acronym for the commission.

Police permits are required by law for ceramahs, while the EC’s duties are just to conduct elections.

Azhar expressed surprise at Ismail Sabri’s comments in the parliament lobby today, questioning the new ruling.

Sam Tham/The Star

“I am surprised that even senior politicians, even those who hold a degree in law, do not seem to understand, let alone appreciate, the basic legal framework that concerns elections,” he added, while reiterating that the police is the institution tasked to maintain law and order, and not the EC.

He advised politicians to check the law before firing “baseless” and “repugnant” allegations against the EC.

“I do hope that the politicians do not, at the drop of the hat, imply bad faith on the EC for every little thing that does not go their way.

“Of course, that hope remains a castle in the air at the moment,” he said.

The Tanjung Piai by-election is slated for November 16 but early voting was carried out today with 280 police personnel casting their ballots.

The parliamentary seat has two state constituencies: Pekan Nanas and Kukup.

The by-election was called following the death of incumbent Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, 42, from Pakatan Harapan (PH) on September 21 due to heart complications.

The contest is a six-horse race involving PH candidate Karmaine Sardini, BN’s Dr Wee Jeck Seng; Wendy Subramaniam (Gerakan), Dr Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz (president of Barisan Jemaah Islamiah) and two independent candidates: Dr Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar.

Apart from the 280 early voters, the Tanjung Piai electoral roll for has 52,698 ordinary voters and eight absentee voters. – TMI