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Uproar over RM700mil for polls expenses

 | July 11, 2012

Pakatan Rakyat demands to know why it takes that much to run the 13th national elections.

KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Rakyat leaders today raised alarms over the Election Commission’s RM700 million budget to run the looming 13th general polls which is a drastic increase from its initial RM40 million allocation.

PKR senator Syed Husin Ali, speaking to reporters here, revealed Putrajaya’s request for an additional RM360 million for the EC’s operational expenses, and RM300 million for “security expenses” amid an ongoing national dispute over the credibility of the country’s elections system.

According to the former PKR deputy president, the amount was easily the biggest budget so far for an election.

“The government must explain why is there a drastic increase from RM40 million to RM360 million in allocation for the EC’s operational expenses.

“And this much money will be spent when there isn’t even any assurance that polls reform would be implemented,” Syed Husin said.

The senator pointed that the request for RM300 million for security expenses was also questionable citing past incidents where opposition ceramah events were attacked by alleged supporters of the ruling coalition.

“So what guarantees are there that taxpayers money would be spent accordingly?” asked the PKR senator.

Insincere

Growing support for polls reform movement Bersih and a national backlash derived from brutal crackdowns on its peaceful protests for free and fair elections have forced Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to accede to calls for a cleansing of the election system.

A Parliamentary Select Committee was then set up to look into the demands followed by a 22 point recommendations tabled and approved in the Lower House at the March Parliament sitting.

But the opposition claimed the premier was insincere with his reform pledges after he failed to give any assurance that the recommendations would be implemented before he calls for national polls which must be held by mid 2013.

The PSC’s 22 recommendations, approved without debate, had also been criticised for purportedly failing to touch on specific issues pertaining to discrepancies in the current electoral roll.

Opposition leaders alleged this proved allegations that the ruling coalition was hell-bent on winning what would be its toughest elections yet through cheating although Najib denied the allegation.

Leaders from the ruling coalition also described Bersih and its opposition backers’ call for polls reform dishonest for rejecting the recommendations.

They said their preference for street protests over dialogue strengthened perceptions that the movement was only interested in overthrowing the present government via a coup.


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