EC bosses admit being Umno members
But the duo claim that they are no longer active and thus capable of carrying out their duties in an impartial manner. However, PKR wants their heads to roll.KUALA LUMPUR: Election Commission chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof (photo) and his deputy Wan Ahmad Wan Omar admitted that they “could have been” Umno members but were now inactive.
The pair also dismissed accusations that their ties with Umno affected their credibility.
The denial came immediately after PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution demanded both Abdul Aziz and Wan Ahmad to resign from after claiming that the two were still members of the ruling party.
“Are these two gentlemen expected to run free and fair elections in Malaysia?” Saifuddin asked in a statement, which included Abdul Aziz and Wan Ahmad’s membership details.
The former was said to be with the party’s Sri Ampang branch under the Ampang division while the latter was with the Kubang Bunggor branch under the Pasir Mas chapter.
Saifuddin also claimed that Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, who quit Kota Marudu Umno when he was appointed as Speaker in 2008, had informed him that the EC’s top two officers were still party members.
But in an interview published in a Malay daily today, the EC chief and his deputy claimed that they were no longer active members of Umno, saying that they no longer paid fees or attended party meetings.
“I can’t even remember which branch (I was with) because after I completed my studies, I lived in several areas — Segambut, Selayang and Ampang. So if anyone had named me (as an Umno member) I don’t know which branch,” Abdul Aziz told Sinar Harian.
‘I am speaking the truth’
Wan Ahmad gave a similar statement, saying he had “never bothered to find out” about his membership and said his priority was to serve as a government servant.
“I am speaking the truth,” he said, adding that the law disallowed government servants from party membership which he then said was proof of his inactive role in Umno and ability to carry out his duties impartially.
The EC had been heavily criticised and accused of bias, a pivotal reason behind poll watchdog Bersih’s plan to hold tomorrow’s mass protest at the iconic Dataran Merdeka, the third since its inception.
The previous Bersih rally had caused extensive damage to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s reform credentials and forced him to make major concessions which included vows to clean up the electoral process for fear of a potential voter backlash.
He instructed the formation of a Parliamentary Select Committee, with the cooperation of the EC, to look into poll reforms but opposition lawmakers claimed that the commission gave a half-baked commitment to an already sham undertaking given the panel’s lopsided composition.
Bersih, a coalition of rights groups, eventually rejected the PSC’s recommendations and announced its plan for a mass sit-in protest following Putrajaya’s failure to ensure electoral reforms were in place before the national polls.
But government leaders claimed that Bersih never gave EC the chance to implement the panel’s findings, adding that the planned protest indicated the group’s disinterest in serious dialogues for genuine cooperation on improving the election process.