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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Has Transparency International Malaysia provisions to delete and disqualify signatories to its Election Integrity Pledge who blatantly violate its four principles in the run-up to the 13GE?

By Lim Kit Siang

The Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob has followed in the footsteps of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz to criticise Pakatan Rakyat leaders for their reluctance to sign the Transparency International-Malaysia’s (TIM) Election Integrity Pledge which was signed with such fanfare by the Prime Minister last Wednesday.

Adnan repeated the “old chestnut” that Pakatan Rakyat leaders are reluctant to sign the TIM Election Integrity Pledge because they have something to hide and that they are still doubtful whether the opposition coalition could responsibly run the country if they come to power.

Speaking at the opening of a meeting of the Pahang branch of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress in Kuantan on Sunday, Adnan said : “In future, if they abuse their powers, then the opposition leaders will give the excuse that they did not sign the integrity pledge to escape.”

I am shocked at such nonsensical argument spouted by a Mentri Besar, completely ignoring the laws of the land, religious teachings and ethics against corruption and abuses of power.

Is Adnan seriously suggesting that all the Barisan Nasional leaders, whether at the national or state levels, whether Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers, Mentri-Mentri Besar, Chief Ministers and State Excos can claim entitlement to corrupt practices and abuses of power solely on the excuse that they had not yet signed the TI Election Integrity Pledge?

It is these lame excuses of UMNO/BN leaders which have raised questions and concerns whether the TIM Election Integrity Pact is meaningful or whether it is being used to “whitewash” all the corruption and abuses of power which have been committed by UMNO/BN leaders whether at the national or state levels in the past.

Even officials of the Election Commission (EC), which should be an independent, professional and credible body to conduct free and fair elections in the country, have joined the bandwagon to echo UMNO/BN leaders’ criticisms of Pakatan Rakyat on the TIM Election Integrity Pact.

The Deputy Chairman of Election Commission, Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, hit out at Pakatan Rakyat by declaring that it is “a shame” that opposition party leaders are shying away from signing TIM’s Election Integrity Pledge.

The real shame is the Election Commission’s failure to understand it is only confirming its subservience and subordination to the ruling coalition of UMNO/BN to the extent of echoing UMNO/BN criticisms against PR, when the Election Commission should stay above the fray to conscientiously carry out its constitutional duty to conduct free and fair elections in the country.

If Wan Ahmad wants to dabble in politics, he should resign from the Election Commission and contest the 13GE as a BN candidate instead of continuing to undermine the independence and integrity of the Malaysian electoral process by being a subservient agent of Umno/BN.

Wan Ahmad said it is incumbent on candidates contesting in the general election to sign the pledge as the people desired representatives not merely to profess to have integrity but to practise it as well.

He said he believed the people would feel more assured in their choice if the candidates had no qualms about signing the pledge, as what Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had done.

Although I must say that Wan Ahmad has given more sensible arguments than Adnan Yaakob to present the case for candidates signing the TIM Election Integrity Pledge, his remarks reek of hypocrisy and dishonesty as the Election Commission has never taken a stand against the rampant corruption of money politics by UMNO/BN in previous general elections.

I have qualms about signing the TIM Election Integrity Pledge precisely because of the Prime Minister’s cynical signature without showing any signs that he is serious and fully committed to its principles, and the abject and disgraceful role of Election Commission in the past in ensuring a clean, ethical, free and fair elections in the country.

TIM’s Election Integrity Pledge stipulates four principles for all signatories to observe in the 13th general elections, viz:

• Truth, integrity, ethical conduct and accountability, including not accepting or giving bribes or being involved in corrupt practices in any way;

• Upholding and giving priority to the interests of the rakyat as a whole;

• Good governance and transparency; and

• Compliance with all the applicable laws and regulations of Malaysia.

Has TIM any mechanism to receive and investigate public complaints that signatories have violated the four principles enshrined in the Election Integrity Pledge – even in the run-up to the 13GE?

Are there any provisions for TIM to delete and disqualify signatories to its Election Integrity Pledge who blatantly violate its four principles in the run-up to the 13GE?

For instance, within days of signing the Election Integrity Pledge, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has violated his commitment to conduct a clean and ethical election campaign, when he declared in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday that “a vote for DAP is a vote for the oppression of Muslims” – a most unethical and shameless incitement of racial and religious hatred which is also totally against Najib’s signature 1Malaysia policy.

Will TIM communicate with Najib that the Prime Minister has violated the Election Integrity Pledge which he had signed last Wednesday to conduct a clean and ethical election campaign?

Will TIM ask the Prime Minister to withdraw and apologise for the irresponsible and unethical statement which is not only baseless and irresponsible but a most shameful example of incitement of racial and religious hatred and conflict?

If Najib is not prepared to withdraw and apologise for his unethical remark, will TIM delete Najib’s signature from its roster of signatories and disqualify him as eligible to be a signatory because of his blatant disregard of the four principles laid down in the TIM Election Integrity Pledge?

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