Friday, 14 September 2012

EC: Code of conduct for caretaker govt ready

The draft must be brought to the federal government for further deliberation, says Election Commision deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar.

PETALING JAYA: The Election Commission (EC) has prepared a code of conduct for a caretaker government, possibly to be used for the 13th general election
“The draft is ready but we need to present it to the federal government for further deliberation,” said EC deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar today.

The code of conduct is one of the 22 recommendations made by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms (PSC) in order to improve the electoral process in the country.

The 13th general election must be called before April 2013 but Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had hinted on several occasions that he might dissolve the parliament by the end of this year.

Wan Ahmad said the code was prepared after the EC studied conventions in other Commonwealth countries, namely Australia and New Zealand.

On the need to consult the federal government, Wan Ahmad said it was important as the government of the day would become the caretaker government by default once parliament was dissolved.

“That’s the convention. Our constitution, in its current form, makes no mention on the role of a caretaker government,” he said.

Wan Ahmad added that Pakatan Rakyat would also be consulted on the code of conduct as the opposition pact was in control of several state governments.

“But then we are talking about the general election. So we will be consulting the federal government first before going to the state governments,” he said.

Overseas voters

On allowing overseas Malaysians to vote at their respective high commissions, Wan Ahmad said that the EC had also decided to follow other Commonwealth countries’ model, where the voters need to come back at least once in three years to be allowed to vote.

The EC official also said that the matter would require several amendments to the law and the Attorney-General’s Chambers was already looking into it.

Wan Ahmad, however, urged Malaysian voters abroad to return to vote in the event the amendments were not made in time for the next general election.

“Nobody is stopping you from coming back to vote. Plan your trip back during the polls to cast your ballot.

“We are working on a 13th general election website that will be launched soon. It will have all the details including your polling station and others. Make an effort to come back home,” he said.

On the minimum 10-day polling period, Wan Ahmad said the EC would meet the requirements made by the PSC.

However, he was not favourable of having long campaigning period, saying it would be too costly and would require many government agencies to work around the clock, especially the police.

“Besides, Malaysian political parties campaign almost 365 days a year. They campaign through media, ceramah and other avenues. Our electoral campaign period is more like a time to wrap things up. So do we really need more time for campaigning?” asked Wan Ahmad.

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