EC chairman: We can’t probe, penalise election offences

Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Newly-minted Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun today lamented the commission’s lack of powers to act against any candidate who violates election laws.

Under the existing legislative framework, the EC, he said, could not investigate or penalise an individual or party should they breach laws stipulated under the Election Offences Act 1954.

“The power to probe any allegations of any offence lies with other investigative bodies, such as the police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC),” he said in a statement.

Azhar said the EC, however, had set up a special election campaign enforcement team to monitor the campaigns conducted during the Port Dickson by-election as well as the Balakong and Seri Setia polls in September and the Sungai Kandis by-election in August.

“If the team comes across any misconduct, we will not hesitate to report it to the relevant investigative bodies.”

Azhar’s statement comes a day after electoral reforms group Bersih 2.0 said Pakatan Harapan (PH) was reported to have committed a higher number of election offences in the Seri Setia and Balakong by-elections than its opponents.

Among the offences committed by PH in Sungai Kandis and Balakong were the abuse of government assets, resources, agencies and programmes to get votes.

Three ministers — PKR’s Mohamed Azmin Ali, Amanah’s Mohamad Sabu and Dzulkefly Ahmad, also from Amanah — were reported to have used official government cars for campaign activities in Balakong.

Other offences reportedly committed by PH included giving out goodies in exchange for votes and providing free food.

Acting Bersih 2.0 chairman Shahrul Aman Mohd Saari also said EC should be empowered to conduct an investigation and take action against those who commit election offences.