Malaysia

EC heads should have declared Umno ties, says Bersih

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
April 27, 2012
Latest Update: April 28, 2012 03:24 pm

Ambiga said Wan Ahmad’s (left) remarks illustrated the EC’s lack of independence. — File picAmbiga said Wan Ahmad’s (left) remarks illustrated the EC’s lack of independence. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof and Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar should have disclosed the fact they were Umno members when they were first appointed to the Election Commission (EC), Bersih said today.

Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the admissions by chairman Abdul Aziz and his deputy that they were once and possibly still are Umno members, were “shocking”.

She said what was “telling” were Wan Ahmad’s remarks made during a Sinar Harian interview published today, in which he had said he considered himself a “government servant.”

“He really thinks he is still a government servant. That’s our problem with the EC; it is supposed to be independent.

“If you have ever been a member of a political party, you should disclose it when you are appointed (to the post),” she said.

Ambiga said the EC duo had to do some serious “soul-searching” and ask themselves whether they were really impartial.

“Ultimately, we are asking for their resignation, and this information has just proven our concerns,” the lawyer added.

PKR has also demanded Abdul Aziz and Wan Ahmad resign from their posts, and has furnished evidence to show that the two are still Umno members.

Both EC officials have admitted that they could have been Umno members a long time ago, but stressed that it did not affect their ability to carry out their professional duties.

They took great pains to point out that their Umno memberships were from a long time ago and they were inactive members, having not paid any dues or attended party meetings.

The duo have come under intense scrutiny in the past year over claims of fraud in election practices and the electoral roll as federal polls draw near.

The EC was heavily criticised in the lead-up to Bersih’s rally for free and fair elections on July 9 last year in which tens of thousands flooded the streets of the capital in chaotic scenes that saw over 1,500 arrested, scores injured and the death of an ex-soldier.

Widespread condemnation of the Najib administration’s clampdown saw Putrajaya make major concessions including announcing a bipartisan Parliamentary Select Committee to look into improving the electoral system.

During the committee’s six-month tenure, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) accused the EC of not being committed to reforms and eventually rejected the panel’s findings.

Early this month, Bersih, a coalition of 84 civil societies, also announced a sit-in protest at Dataran Merdeka for tomorrow, saying the findings of the select committee were disappointing and did not meet its demands for electoral reform.

Abdul Aziz became EC chairman on January 2009 while Wan Ahmad was appointed in 2007