Election Commission should draw up separate SOPs for the four phases of the NRP to demonstrate its is mindful of its duty to conduct free, fair and clean elections
From Monday, five more states currently under Phase 3 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) will transition to the final Phase 4 for full re-opening, leaving Kelantan and Sarawak as the only states still in Phase 3.
Compared to Phase 3, Phase 4 has fewer restrictions for curtailing the spread of Covid-19, such as by allowing social functions such as wedding receptions to take place albeit with certain precautions still in place.
The Election Commission should draw up separate SOPs for the four phases of the NRP or it will be open to the accusation that it is misusing the Covid-19 pandemic to clamp down on electioneering activities to benefit the government parties, completely oblivious of its duty and responsibility to ensure that elections are free, fair and clean by having one SOP for all four phases.
The Election Commission must be challenged to prove that it is mindful of its responsibility to conduct “free, fair and clean” elections.
I have suggested that the Election Commission should consult the Health Ministry, political parties and NGOs like Bersih and Suaram before deciding on the different SOPs for the Malacca and Sarawak general elections, but the suggestion seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
A report yesterday that the Malacca Police had found no element of “vote-buying” in a food and cash handout event for the elderly people that is being aired in a viral video, has raised more questions.
The Malacca Criminal Investigation Department chief Azlan Abu said that the event represented by the Facebook image showing food packages together with RM50 cash, with the caption alleging that it happened in Malacca, was investigated by the Malacca Police under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, and the Malacca Police found that the event was not mean to affect the ballots.
The Malaysian public are entitled to more information as to how the Malacca Police came to such a conclusion or its credibility as an professional non-partisan force not taking side in the forthcoming general election will be at stake.
Once the Malacca state assembly is dissolved and pending the election of the new State Assembly, the Police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Election Commission should be on the lookout to prevent vote-buying activities.