In less than 24 hours. voters of Sungai Besar & Kuala Kangsar will be casting their votes to fill the seats left vacant as a result of the tragic helicopter crash in Sebuyau on May 5th. With the latest statement by it's Chairman that giving outright donation to voters is no bribery, the Commission has reached a new low in it's fight to twart off allegations that it is not independent. Or are they?
Since it's inception on 4 Sept 1957, the question whether the Election Commission is independent never ceased to arise. This is due to the fact that saved the appointed members (from the rank of retired senior civil servants), the staffs are 'seconded' from the JPA, meaning full time Govt civil servants who are are posted at the Commission to serve full time. This include the Secretary who heads the Secretariat and paid by the Government of the day, as opposed to the appointed Members whose salary are 'charged' to the Consolidaed Fund (meaning, they cannot be sacked unless by a 2/3 majority vote in Parliament). To get a better insight of its day to day working, a brief look at the personality of some of its Chairman might suffice.
The 1st Chairman was the flamboyant Dato Mustapha Abakri Hassan. Though I never had the privilege to serve under him, much was say about his 'heroics' which is taken to mean that he is much feared by both enemies (meaning the Opposition) and friends (meaning the Government). Suffice to say that under him, the Commission was much respected, albeit, independent.
Then comes Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Talib. A very much respected man, although soft spoken. But when he speaks, even the PM listens. That much can be said of him. I have the honour to have served under such a respected person.
Thereafter, the Commission took a 'nosedived', culminating in the appointment of Dato Wan Ahmad Wan Yusoff. Of course mention must be made of his predecessor, Tan Sri Rashid Abd Rahman, a man of many characters. Sometimes, he was a Mustapha Albakri sometimes, a TS Kadir. Well liked but outspoken, he more often than not managed to manoeurve and uses his charm to get out of tricky situations. He count LKS and the late TGNA as among his 'allies'.
Wan Ahmad was a different type of animal altogether. Having served as an official in the PM'Research Dept, he had wanted, first as Secretary and then as Dep Chairman & Chairman, to make the Commission a Govt Dept. He got many tongue lashings from Rashid for that. When he finally becomes it's Chairman, he showed his true colours. Never had the Commission's standing took a beating more severe like when under him.
Succeeding him was a TS Aziz Yusoff, a formerly State Secretary of Selangor. You may all may thought that he must have been an outstanding SS to be plucked out while still in service to head the Commission. Sadly, this is not so. He likes to talk, that's all.Mediocre at best, he tried hard to impress, but did not quite made it.
The current Chairman, Dato Mohd Hashim Abdullah was previously the Commission's Dep. Chairman. Prior to that, he was the Sec General of the Agriculture Ministry. His appointment would not have raised much eyebrow but for the fact that he was, for quite sometimes, serving as Special Official to TS Anuar Musa, now UMNO Imformation Chief. It is an open secret that they are still in contact with each other thereafter, and what role TS played in getting him get the post is up to anybody's guess. As to date, he hasn't done anything impressive to impress. Let's give time though.
Before parting, may I add that one of the great ironies of it all is the placing of the Election Commission under the PM's Dept. Come again, did I say, under the PM's Dept?
Need I say more ?