Speak up against EC? Tanjung Piai poll dates reasonable, Bersih tells think tank

Radzi Razak
Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann said consideration had been given to many things, including next month’s Deepavali celebration, the fact Fridays and Saturdays are weekend days in Johor, as well as the 14-day campaign period. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — Bersih 2.0 has explained that the dates for the Tanjung Piai by-election are reasonable, amid a call by an Umno-linked think tank for the polls watchdog and other civil societies to censure the Election Commission (EC) for its decision.

Bersih 2.0 chairman Thomas Fann said consideration had been given to many things, including next month’s Deepavali celebration, the fact Fridays and Saturdays are weekend days in Johor, as well as the 14-day campaign period.

“Priority consideration was given to Johor’s weekend falling on Fridays and Saturdays, state and national holidays, and the 60 days limit to hold a by-election. Furthermore, the campaign period has been ‘standardised’ at 14 days, which is reasonable.

“Anything less or more for a by-election would be considered unreasonable by many, including contesting political parties,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

BN-led Putrajaya and the EC received major backlash from voters last year after announcing that GE14 would fall on a working day. The former subsequently announced May 9 as a special public holiday.

The EC announced yesterday that the by-election will be held on November 16, with Nomination Day set for November 2 and early voting on November 12.

November 16 falls on a Saturday, and unlike the May 9 date for GE14, it is not a working day in any state.

The EC also explained that the dates were to avoid the campaigning period and polling date from clashing with Johor’s Hol state holiday and Deepavali celebration on October 5 and October 27 respectively.

However, Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS) had urged Bersih 2.0 and other civil society groups to stand up against the decision, comparing it to tactics deployed by the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration in the past.

Fann said the death of incumbent Datuk Dr Farid Md Rafik is something that no one could have anticipated, even if it is unfortunate that the dates would affect the general assemblies of Opposition parties Umno and MCA.

“The think tank should examine the explanation given by the EC chair and decide whether it is reasonable or not. If not, could they propose alternative dates that would not inconvenience the voters of Tanjung Piai?” he asked.

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