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Meeting with Rashid as to how Election Commission proposes to apply the caretaker government concept when Parliament is dissolved to ensure free, fair and clean general election

Media Statement (2)         
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Ipoh, Sunday): I will seek a meeting with the Chairman of the Election Commission Chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman to discuss how the Election Commission proposes to ensure that the 12th general election is free, fair and clean, particularly whether the Election Commission proposes to apply the caretaker government concept when Parliament is dissolved.

When he became Prime Minister four years ago, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi propounded the concept of Islam Hadhari, founded on just and trustworthy governance.

A government which genuinely believes in fair play and justice as two important ingredients of Islam Hadhari would support the concept of a caretaker government between the dissolution of Parliament and the election of a new legislature.

Under this concept, which has become commonplace in first-world developed nations, there is only a caretaker government when Parliament stands dissolved for a general election to be held.

In a caretaker government, Cabinet Ministers should not abuse government positions, machinery, resources and funds for any electioneering purpose for a political party or candidate. A candidate, who benefits unfairly from any such “unhealthy” and dishonest practices, as campaigning assistance by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or Cabinet Minister through the abuse of their government positions or misuse of public funds and resources, should be subject to disqualification.

Rashid has just had his tenure as Election Commission Chairman renewed in the most unusual circumstances, viz:

• requiring Parliament to rush through a solitary amendment to the Constitution to extend the retirement age of the Election Commission Chairman from 65 to 66 before his retirement comes due at the end of last year (Dewan Rakyat passed it on Dec. 11 while Dewan Negara adjourned on Dec. 24 – with Dec. 25 the next day, Christmas Day, a public holiday);

• requiring the Yang di Pertuan Agong who returned to the country on Dec. 26 after performing the haj pilgrimage in Mecca to give his Royal Assent to the Constitution Amendment Bill 2007 on the very same day of his return as well as the publication of the government gazette of the legislation, so that the new law comes into instant effect the same day – allowing Rashid to extend his service by another year the very next day on Dec. 27.

With these unusual efforts involving the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Parliament and the Yang di Pertuan Agong to act in a most unprecedented manner to expeditiously approve the constitutional amendment so that Rashid could preside over preparations for the next general election, what guarantee can Rashid give that the conduct of the 12the general election would not be as disastrous and disgraceful as the 11th general election but can stand national and international scrutiny as the most free, fair and clean in the 50-year history of Malaysia?


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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