EC: Allow all candidates access to Port Dickson army camp

Campaigning for the Port Dickson by-election is in full swing and the Election Commission has said all candidates must be treated equally. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Election Commission (EC) today urged the defence ministry to allow all Port Dickson by-election candidates to access the army camp in the parliamentary constituency.

EC chairman Azhar Azizan Harun said while the commission had no powers in this regard, it was of the view that it was not fair if a certain candidate was allowed to enter the camp to campaign, but other candidates were not allowed to do so.

He was referring to the permission given to Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate Anwar Ibrahim to enter the camp while PAS candidate Mohd Nazari Mokhtar was not allowed to do so.

“It goes against the principle and spirit of democracy, and the existence of a fair and just campaign.

“With this, the EC would like to urge the army camp authorities, or the defence ministry, to give equal campaigning opportunities to all candidates, in accordance with all camp and national security procedures practised by the camp or the ministry,” he said in a statement today.

The Port Dickson by-election campaign is in full swing, with six days remaining before polling on Oct 13.

Azhar, in the statement, also reminded Cabinet ministers and politicians to not use office hours to campaign, as it was a misuse of work time.

“On top of that, while the EC is aware that Cabinet members and politicians hold posts within the government, they cannot use government facilities or assets for the purpose of campaigning.

“They must be mindful of the difference between their duties as a member of the government and as a member or leader of their party,” he said.

Azhar further pointed out that any launch of a development project specifically for the purpose of fishing for votes could become an election offence and could lead to the nullification of an election.

“The line between a promise to bring development to the people in the area and corrupt practices is actually very thin and must be observed carefully,” he said.

Azhar said the road to a fair and just election was an extended process and would take time, and as such, it was impossible for this to be achieved in just a week after he took over duties as the new EC chairman.

He said there were processes that needed amendments to existing laws and regulations, but added that the EC would do its best, under the current legal framework, to boost democratic practices, especially in having a healthy election.