The BN parties have been (ab)using the District Officer(DO) office for their partisan campaigning for many elections -but now they know/wake up to how a compromised DO/RO (Returning Officer) can compromise their chances to victory. So shall we expect `statesmen’ from both side to agree to do away with appointing DO as RO, starting from Hulu Selangor? Otherwise UMNO’s objection to appointing DO as RO would sound hollow as though it is only not OK if it affects their chances to victory. Otherwise it is OK. What a self serving argument! In other Commonwealth countries which practice similar system as Malaysia eg Bangladesh, DOs have been shun as RO in view of their close association with the ruling parties of the day. They appoint judicial officers as RO-a better bet -though also not bias-prove. What we need is a better culture of non-partisanship in the society ie a strengthened civil society where non-partisanship is strictly observed to avoid conflict of interests among various interested social political actors. Without this then we will continue to have the various referees acting to serve their bosses/appointers.
So: is it a deal to appoint judicial members as ROs instead of DOs?
BN seeks to disqualify by-election officer
By Adib Zalkapli and G. Manimaran(Malaysianinsider)
HULU SELANGOR, April 13 — The Barisan Nasional (BN) will demand for the removal of Hulu Selangor by-election’s returning officer Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahalan, claiming that his objectivity has been compromised.
The BN’s request to the Election Commission (EC) comes after the Selangor government’s decision to relocate Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and his executive councillors to the Hulu Selangor District Office during the campaign period for the April 25 by-election.
“When the mentri besar takes over the district office this is very suspicious as the district officer is also the election returning officer,” BN Wanita information chief Datuk Hamidah Osman told The Malaysian Insider.
“So when the MB occupies the district office, can the returning officer maintain his neutrality?” she asked.
Hamidah who is also a Perak executive councillor said the matter was discussed at the BN Wanita machinery where it was agreed that a formal protest be lodged with the EC.
She cited the resignation of Datuk Mat Razali Mat Kassim as the Kuala Terengganu by-election returning officer last year for allegedly campaigning for BN, to justify the her demand.
“We hope the Election Commission can replace the returning officer and at the same time the MB and his excos must leave the district office,” said Hamidah.
She described Khalid’s move as abuse of power.
“I don’t see much of party machinery, only the state government,” said Hamidah.
Last week, the Selangor executive council meeting was held in the Hulu Selangor District Office in Kuala Kubu Bharu where it made the announcement to award land titles to some 100,000 families in the state.
The Pakatan Rakyat-led (PR) government had also announced the decision to temporarily relocate its members of administration at the district office to look into the problems in the constituency.
Khalid’s political secretary Nik Nazmi Ahmad however said the district office was only used for government programmes.
“MB and excos are using district office for government programmes. There’s nothing wrong with that,” the Seri Setia assemblyman told The Malaysian Insider adding that the returning officer will still be able to perform his duties objectively.
The Hulu Selangor by-election was called following the death of PKR’s Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad last month.
It is expected to see a straight fight between PKR and MIC candidates, representing the two coalitions, after nomination day on April 17.