SEREMBAN: Although voter turnout for the Rantau polls so far has been satisfactory, the same cannot be said about the discipline of candidates and their political parties, says Election Commission (EC) chairman Azhar Azizan Harun.
There were election offences being committed in plain view such as canvassing booths being set up near voting centres and supporters of candidates trying to gain votes within a 50m radius from polling centres, he said.
"The election is going well but from the aspect of the candidates' discipline and their parties, I find it less than satisfactory.
"This is because barung panas (canvassing booths) are still operating and although I personally asked them to stop, they complied for only 15 minutes, then started again on the 16th minute.
"I had to warn them twice but then they started again, using their handphone to check on voters," Azhar told reporters at SK Nyatoh in Rantau on Saturday (April 13) after visiting two other polling centres.
There were two canvassing booths in SJK(T) Bandar Sri Sendayan, which Azhar reprimanded and repeatedly told them to stop operating.
Canvassing booths, which were meant for voters to check their details, were not necessary as voter cards had already been sent out and voters could also check their details on the EC website and mobile application aside from EC booths at every polling centre, he said.
These canvassing booths set up by political parties obstructed traffic as some of them were constructed in the middle of the road, he added.
On the instances of party supporters seen trying to garner votes within 50m radius from a polling centre, Azhar said that videos would be taken of their activities and police reports would follow if they refused to stop.
"I have been informed that the enforcement team and the RO (returning officer) had asked them to stop.
"We don't want any commotion to happen, so if we ask them to stop but they refuse, we will take a soft approach.
"We will record them campaigning and make a police report the next day. We don't want to force them to stop there and then because a fight might break out, and this would cause voters to feel unsafe to come out and vote," he said.
Azhar said this noncompliance not only went against election rules, but also marred the image of the political parties.
"Stop doing these things in such plain view. Even if they win, this can be brought up in an election petition," he said.
When asked to comment on Pakatan Harapan candidate Dr S. Streram allegedly campaigning this morning although it is forbidden to do so on polling day, Azhar asked those who had witnessed it to lodge a police report.
"If he really did that, then it's an offence because you can't campaign or ask for votes on polling day. If there is video evidence, make a police report.
"If this is brought to court, and the court decides on the matter, then this would give us guidance for future cases," he said.
Azhar also expressed optimism that the percentage of voters who came out to cast their ballots would reach at least 70% by the cut-off time for voting at 5.30pm.
He said this expectation was based on the percentage of voters who had come out until 11am, which stood at 38%.
"It is satisfying because within three hours since 8am to 11am, already 38% of voters had come out. Logically, we can get 70% by 5.30pm," he said.
The Rantau polls is seeing a four-cornered fight between Dr Streram, Barisan Nasional candidate Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and independent candidates R. Malarvizhi and Mohd Nor Yassin.
Polling is ongoing from 8am to 5.30pm Saturday (April 13) for this constituency that is about a 25 minutes drive away from here.
Rantau has 20,926 registered voters with 55.51% Malay, 18.46% Chinese, 26% Indian and others at 0.03%.
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