EC’s vice-chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar spelled out the EC’s decision on the arrangement for nomination day: only 5000 supporters are allowed to attend the nomination day rally; the police will be left with the task to enforce this `instruction’ as the EC goes ahead of this `instruction’ despite acknoweledment that there is no law providing for it! This contrast with the EC’s position on MAFREL’s suggestion to extend the nomination period so that the party supporters can hold separate rallies without causing any tension, where the EC said they can’t enforce this suggestion due to a lack of law!
Similarly the EC had said the lack of law also stopped them from enforcing the indelible ink proposal which EC said it welcomed before 12th General Election.
Such inconsistencies on the part of the EC is certain to feed into the persistent perception that the EC lack impartiality in discharging its constitutional function. But the EC’s willingness to enforce what it sees as helpful to secure improvement for the electiosn shows that they could actually make the right interventions if they want to discharge their constitutional duty to run free and fair elections. But why are they not doing it-and only interven where there seems to be a coincidence of interests with the ruling party?
The 5000 limit arose from a discussion with political parties by EC on April 23rd, but the numerical limit was reached with the police on Thursday.
The EC justify the measure by saying that the number of supporters keep increasing for the by-elections since last general election on Mar 8th 2008. However the EC did not seems to consider systematic ways to avoid tension while safeguarding the parties’ rights for assembly.
2 other points worth concern: Why are the parties not the ones who agree between themselves to eelction rules so that the rules will have bi-partisan support? Direct parties negotiation should be a way to go ahead -compared to current situation where the EC seems to be carrying out decisions made by 1 side as though it is a `bougtht referee’.
2ndly if the police were to enforce the 5000 limit rule can it enforce a regulation without legal abcking? Can anyone caught under such enforcement challenge and ask for compensation from the police? The police would be walking on tricky ground if it try to enforce such baseless regulations!