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EC chairman – There is nothing wrong for EC officer to join political parties

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KUALA LUMPUR,  — Election Commission (EC) officers are within their democratic right to join political parties but they must not be partisan in carrying out their duties, says its chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof.

The EC chairman disclosed this when responding to accusations by PAS that a senior EC officer in Sabah was holding a key post in the Kinabatangan Umno Youth chapter. The EC’s impartiality has been continuously questioned by the opposition and activists over the past years.

“There is nothing wring for any EC officer to join political parties. It doesn’t matter if they are in PAS, PKR or Umno.

“It is their democratic right,” he told The Malaysian Insiderwhen contacted over the issue.

But Abdul Aziz said that EC officials should not side with any parties or abuse their powers when carrying out their duties.

He also stressed that the EC welcomed reports from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) if the commission officials abused their powers, saying the opposition parties should lodge complaints and provide proof of wrongdoing.

“If there is proof to show the officer is in the wrong, please submit the proof. If possible, give the name, position and pictures.

“We will investigate without favour no matter who the officer is,” Abdul Aziz said.

The former top civil servant agreed that EC officials who are in political parties should not mix their duties with political ideology, saying it went against the work ethics of those in government service.

The EC chairman pointed out there were no regulations or laws that prevent government officials from joining political parties, except that those active in politics must apply for permission from the Public Service Department (PSD).

Sabah PAS Youth chief Lahirul Latigu had asked the EC to explain how its officials can hold posts in political parties, saying the silence would affect the commission’s credibility to ensure the democratic process is carried out in the country.

“If the EC still chooses to keep silent on this issue, PAS Youth will not hesitate to expose details about the officer who is in politics,” he had said.

Reports of EC officers holding posts in Umno have surfaced over the years, including allegations that Abdul Aziz and his deputy, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, are members of the ruling party.

Following such reports against the top two EC officials last May, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz denied that Abdul Aziz was an Umno member as alleged by PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

He disclosed that Abdul Aziz had registered as an Umno member more than 30 years ago in the Ampang Umno division but had since left the party.

“The EC chairman has already clarified that he isn’t an Umno member. He has also made sure about it,” Nazri had said.

– MI