‘Let court decide on caretaker govt role’

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 18 Sep 2003


PUTRAJAYA: Opposition parties have been advised to seek the interpretation of the court on the functions of the caretaker government during the period Parliament and state assemblies are dissolved to when the new government is set up. 

The advice came from the Election Commission after it was asked by the opposition parties to try to prevent the caretaker government from using its powers to the ruling party’s advantage during the campaign period. 

Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said the commission had no power to determine the functions of the caretaker government as the Federal Constitution was silent on the matter. 

“The opposition parties want us to stop the ruling party from using government official functions as a guise to campaign during the campaign period. 

They feel that after the dissolution of the Parliament and state assemblies, the Government’s only function is to administer the country until the next government is set up. 

“But we told them that this matter comes under the Constitution and that they should get the court's interpretation of the Constitution,” he told reporters after briefing representatives from PAS, Parti Keadilan Nasional and DAP on the election code of ethics yesterday. 

Abdul Rashid also said that the commission would come out with clear guidelines for the media on the type of advertisements that could be carried during the campaign period so that they would not accept those deemed “unethical”. 

“We have no power over the media, but we hope media owners would accommodate our request,” he said, adding that he would meet with media bosses on Sept 30 to explain the role of the media during elections. 

On the election enforcement teams that would oversee the smooth running of the elections, Abdul Rashid said their power was all encompassing and included the right to make an arrest and to stop activities that could cause mischief. 

Each unit would have at least one senior police officer, Election Commission officers, local council officers and representatives from political parties. 

He said cases enforced by the team that could not be resolved immediately could be brought up later as election petitions. 

On PAS’ resolution calling for his resignation, Abdul Rashid said the party had accepted his explanation and the matter had been put to rest.  

However, he said, the commission had lodged a police report yesterday over an alleged leak of letters from the commission office to the opposition party which prompted PAS to pass such a resolution at its recent muktamar. 

PAS vice-president Datuk Mustaffa Ali when met after the briefing confirmed that the issue had been put to rest. 

“We will not retract the resolution as it was passed at the muktamar, but as far as we are concerned the matter is no longer an issue,” he added.  

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