You want us to defy police decision on walkabout permit? That’s illegal, EC chief tells Bersih

Kenneth Tee And Yiswaree Palansamy
EC chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun today rubbished electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0’s request to reject the requirement for candidates in the ongoing Tanjung Piai by-election to apply for a permit to conduct door-to-door campaigning, as stipulated by the police. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun today rubbished electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0’s request to reject the requirement for candidates in the ongoing Tanjung Piai by-election to apply for a permit to conduct door-to-door campaigning, as stipulated by the police.

In a stinging response, Azhar said it would be illegal for the EC to instruct the people to blatantly defy an official directive issued by the police in exercising its power vested within them that was provided under the laws of the country.

“As for Bersih’s suggestion that the EC should reject the police’s decision or condition, may I remind Bersih that I was appointed as Chairman of the EC to uphold the law and not to disregard the law,” he said in a statement to Malay Mail.

Earlier today, Bersih 2.0 urged the EC to reject the requirement for candidates in the ongoing Tanjung Piai by-election to apply for a permit to conduct door-to-door campaigning, as stipulated by the police.

The electoral watchdog said that such a requirement was not based on law but a restriction upon the freedom to campaign and has never been practiced in Malaysia’s previous elections.

Johor Police Chief Datuk Mohd Kamarudin Md Din earlier said the new ruling requiring permits for walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning for the Tanjung Piai by-election was to ensure security and prevent clashes between supporters of rival candidates.

Azhar reiterated that the EC will never encroach upon the jurisdiction of any other institutions especially the police, adding that he would not question the police’s decision as they acted within the safety of the nation in their minds.

Meanwhile in response to Umno vice president and Opposition Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob questioning the timing of the EC ruling, Azhar said he was prepared to answer any kind of charges regarding his undertakings as EC chairman at any time in Parliament.

He, too, did not mince his words, saying that the allegations made by Ismail Sabri was in entirety lacking in merit and reflective of the siege mentality suffered by some politicians who were out to gain sympathy.

“His suggestion that I should advise the police on matters that are solely within the purview of the police is bewildering, if not astounding.

“Hasn’t he heard of the principle of administrative law that disallow public officers from acting ultra vires the law or his or her powers?” Azhar retorted, adding that the Umno lawmaker should be getting advice of the doctrine of ultra vires.

The Tanjung Piai by-election will see a six-way contest between PH’s Karmaine Sardini, BN’s Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng, Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam, Berjasa’s Datuk Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz, and two independent candidates Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar.

Polling is scheduled for this Saturday.

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