Reform panel warns ministers against possible abuse of power in PD campaign

Electoral reform committee chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman addresses the media during a press conference in Port Dickson October 2018. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Electoral reform committee chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman addresses the media during a press conference in Port Dickson October 2018. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

PORT DICKSON, Oct 12 — Electoral Reform Committee chairman (ERC) Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman has today ticked off ministers who may have abused their powers while campaigning in the Port Dickson by-election.

The former Election Commission (EC) chairman also warned those in the government to not be coloured by their past as the Opposition, when they were restricted by then Barisan Nasional administration.

“There are cases where ministers came down here to campaign and even announce a few small projects here and there. That should not be the case as it is wrong.

“I believe they were carried away by the past,”’ he said during a press conference at the Hotel Seri Malaysia here.

Rashid, however, did not elaborate which ministers he was criticising.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, Transport Minister Anthony Loke, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, and even Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad have campaigned for Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Port Dickson.

Abdul Rashid admitted that the EC is currently powerless to act against such abuses of power during campaigning.

However, he assured the public that the ERC is looking into drafting laws to ensure there is no abuse of powers and public assets by any parties during an election campaign in the future.

The ERC is also looking into 15 components as part of the process to empower the EC, including enabling the EC to investigate electoral offences and enforce election laws.

“Currently the EC cannot do any of this. Any offences will still need to be taken care of by the police.

“What we can do now is used existing laws to report on elections offences,” he said, urging members of the public to lodge a police report on any possible elections offences.

Other areas they are looking into to improve is the control of media during elections.

“We want the media to provide fair coverage for all in future by-elections. However it is pleasant to see that the media now is already covering the candidates in the by-election fairly,” he said.

Abdul Rashid explains that the ERC will prepare a report on improvements to the EC to the government within two years.

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