Arm EC with investigative powers, says Bersih

PETALING JAYA: Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has called for the Election Commission (EC) to be given investigative powers to allow it to probe election offences.

Bersih executive director Yap Swee Seng said many of the observations made by the coalition required proper investigation.

However, because the EC has no authority to call up witnesses, it is reliant on the police to probe alleged election offences.

“The only thing (the EC) can do is to lodge police reports.

“Of course, Bersih can lodge reports with the EC, but the EC is the proper authority to look into election-related issues.

“One solution is for the EC to be given more investigative powers – that procedure probably has to be reformed,” he said in a press conference at the Bersih headquarters here today.

In the recently concluded Port Dickson by-election, Bersih had observed 10 election offences committed by candidates, particularly those from Pakatan Harapan and PAS.

Election offences were also reported in the Sungai Kandis by-election in August, and the Seri Setia and Balakong by-elections last month.

EC chairman Azhar Azizan Harun previously lamented the commission’s lack of powers to act against candidates who violate election laws.

He said under the existing legislative framework, the EC could not investigate or penalise an individual or party if they breach any of the laws stipulated under the Election Offences Act 1954.

He added that the power to probe alleged offences lay with other investigative bodies such as the police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.