Ambiga urges EC top brass to 'do the decent thing'

Top officials of the Election Commission (EC) have remained unmoved by repeated calls for their resignation, apparently convinced that they had done nothing wrong in the conduct of last month's 13th general election.

Following the continued stubbornness, Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan today urged EC top officials to at least do some introspection and have the dignity to admit their own mistakes.

"They seriously need to ask themselves whether they think they enjoy public confidence," the electoral reform group co-chief toldMalaysiakini when contacted today.

According to the federal constitution, EC commissioners who are appointed by the Agong must enjoy public confidence.

EC chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof had on Wednesdayreiterated that the commissioners would not quit and called on the critics to file election petitions and prove their case in court if they really felt the EC had done wrong.

However, Ambiga said their transgression was clearly obvious to all, but except the EC itself.

"We don't have to prove it, the issues of the indelible ink (which could be washed off after voting), everyone already knows about it," she lamented.

The EC had blamed the Health Ministry over the blunder, claiming that it had advised that the silver nitrate content in the ink, which ensures the ink cannot be removed, should be no more than one percent due to cancer concerns. The Health Ministry has howeverdenied that it had reviewed the ink.

'Admit your mistakes'

While concurring with the EC that the commissioners cannot be arbitrarily removed, Ambiga said that they should nonetheless have the decency to admit the obvious.

"They should own up to all their errors and do the decent thing. We know they are not easy to remove, but at least have the dignity to own up to their shortcomings and step down," she said.

Ambiga then proceeded to list a laundry list of the EC's failures.

"They have lost the confidence of the public and it's their own fault because they have been bias, they did not act on discrepancies pointed out to them, they refuse to clean up the electoral roll, they condoned electoral offences being committed, and many other reasons."

The EC's insistence to stay on comes at a critical period as the next re-delineation exercise begins at year end and pastgerrymandering has contributed to the survival of the ruling coalition which last month won 46 percent of the popular vote but clinched 60 percent of seats in Parliament.

Ambiga, who is former Bar Council president, pointed out the EC appear to be on route to more blunders as it plans to conduct the re-delineation exercise using the existing electoral roll which has been deemed as deeply flawed.

'EC ignoring Sabah RCI'

She said EC cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Immigrants in Sabah, which had revealed that immigrants were illegally given citizenship and had indeed tainted the electoral roll.

"What does this mean? Don't they care? The electoral roll has problems and that is why there is huge concern about this EC... the system must be cleaned up before the re-delineation takes place," she said.

The Sabah RCI, which kicked off in January and has heard the testimony of 107 witnesses, will continue its hearing next Monday.

Despite the seemingly futile attempt to convince the EC to resign, Ambiga said her electoral reform group will not give up.

"I will state categorically that we have not given up the fight for electoral reform even for a single minute and we will not stop because it is vital to our whole system of democracy," she said.