Sun : EC: Posters a waste of money

EC: Posters a waste of money
The Sun
8 March 2006

PASIR MAS: The Election Commission says posters are a waste of money,
with contesting parties spending RM110 million in the 2004 general
election, and wants them done away with.

Quoting the figure that was revealed in studies by an NGO and a
political party, EC chief Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said the
posters also sparked quarrels and fights among rival camps.

“During the Pengkalan Pasir by-election, the contesting political
parties (Barisan Nasional and PAS) spent almost RM4 million on
posters, and soiled the environment in the process.”

As an alternative, he said the EC would come up with a new mechanism
for parties to introduce their candidates as was the practice in
several developed countries, reports Bernama.

“We will only allow contesting parties to hold ceramah (talks) or
rallies, without posters,” he said, adding that the EC might allow
only small party flags.

Abdul Rashid said this on Monday night after a reception held for EC
workers assigned to the Pengkalan Pasir by-election last December.

He also made another time-saving proposal ? recounting votes at
polling centres instead of tallying centres, as is the practice.

This proposal also provides for an increase, from 2% to 4%, in the
difference of votes between the candidates for a recount to be called.
With such a procedure, the election result announced at the tallying
centres would be deemed correct and final, and no protest would be
entertained, he said.

Abdul Rashid said the current practice of recounting votes at tallying
centres posed difficulty to many, including the police, and the EC had
to install closed-circuit TV cameras to prevent claims and allegations
in the event the recount had to be postponed to the following day, as
in the case of the Pengkalan Pasir by-election.

He hoped the new procedure could be implemented for the Sarawak state
elections which are due this year.

He also said the EC would introduce a short messaging service (SMS)
system soon for voter registration.

In an immediate reaction, DAP secretarygeneral Lim Guan Eng told
theSun it has no objection to the EC’s proposals “on condition that
there is free, fair and equal media coverage, be it print or
electronic, for all political parties”.

“Based on previous elections, the EC cannot deliver what it preaches.
It is just an agent of the Barisan Nasional coalition.”

Lim added: “How are we to introduce new faces to the electorate?
Elections are about making informed decisions.”

He lamented the lack of machinery and access to the media, calling it
a mockery of the electoral process.

PAS described the “no poster” proposal and campaigning period as
“ridiculous”.

Its secretary-general Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar instead suggested the EC
take over the printing of posters for the various parties.

Kamaruddin, who is also Tumpat MP, said the EC would then be able to
manage the amount spent on posters.

On the recount at poll instead of tallying centres and increasing the
percentage of votes for a recount, Kamaruddin said: “We have no
problems with them.”