EC already preparing for GE14 — Chairman

KUCHING: The Election Commission (EC) is laying ground works, including preparing the budget, for the 14th General Election (GE14).

EC chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah told The Borneo Post yesterday that the commission is now looking into the details of the GE14 budget, which will be made known to the public after the dissolution of Parliament.

“We will ensure that all expenditure is necessary for the GE14 to be smoothly conducted and it will be a prudent budget,” he said. On talks of a snap GE14, Mohd Hashim said such rumours had been around since 2015.

“The EC does not know when GE14 will be before the dissolution of the parliament. Only after the parliament is dissolved will EC meet to determine related important dates.

“It is our usual practice to start making early preparations two years before the expiry of the term of parliament. This includes the training of officers, updating electoral procedures, replacing damaged equipment and procurement of new ones.

“We have to make early preparations because we don’t know whether the parliament is going to be dissolved in its fourth or the fifth year,” explained Mohd Hashim.

On the just concluded Tanjong Datu by-election, he said it was similar to the Balingian by-election, which he described as the ‘best’ by-election because it was a ‘harmonious, law-abiding and peaceful’ by-election.

“It was harmonious because during the campaign period, there was no complaint of untoward incidences. There was no event or speech of intimidation or personal attacks from any candidate.

“This speaks of maturity of the candidates as well as the voters. This was a by-election where campaigns were carried out healthily, harmoniously and professionally.

“Apart from that, no campaign materials were found to be law-breaking. EC did not receive any complaints in this regards and our enforcement officers had done a good job.  Security-wise, it was a peaceful by-election and we had the police to thank for,” said Mohd Hashim. He hoped it would be a model for other by-elections in the future.

On the 69.2 per cent turnout which was lower than the 75 per cent targeted by EC, he explained that it was due to the bad weather and also the fact that many voters living outside Lundu did not make an effort to return to vote.

“However, I am still happy with the turnout as compared to the last state election where the turnout was 70.1 per cent, the difference was not significant.” He said the high target of 75 per cent was to encourage more voters to exercise their rights.