PONTIAN: It is a lie to say that permits for walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning was imposed only after the first week of the Tanjung Piai by-election campaign period, says Election Commission (EC) chairman Azhar Azizan Harun (pic).
He said that the requirement for permits from the police was introduced from the first day of campaigning, and there was no objection by any of the candidates or agents.
Many had come forward requesting the permits issued by the police, said Azhar during a press conference at Dewan Jubli Intan Sultan Ibrahim here on Friday (Nov 15).
"The permit was not introduced during the middle of campaigning, and I think those who perpetrated that lie have bad faith and those who said it was the EC that came out with such a condition is also doing so in bad faith," he added.
"I'd like to clarify that it was not the EC's decision.
"The issuance of permit and any condition under the permit falls under the purview and jurisdiction of the police, so we have no say in it at all," said Azhar.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas said that walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning did not require police permits under the provisions of current laws.
Thomas clarified that the provisions under which the Election Commission cited the need for a permit for walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning had been wrongly cited.
"The declaration by the police on the need for such police permits is based on Section 24B (3) of the Election Offences Act 1954.
"With respect, this provision does not expressly refer to walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning. The words used in the provision cannot, under any circumstances, be interpreted to extend to walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning.
"The historical fact is that since 1955, these methods of appealing to the electorate are the ones most popularly used by candidates of all political parties, and without the need for such permits," said Thomas in a statement on Thursday (Nov 14).
He said that he had issued the statement as there is a need to make clear of the controversy surrounding the requirement for these police permits by the six candidates and their parties for the Nov 16 Tanjung Piai by-election.
"At the outset, it must be kept in mind that voting is a fundamental right expressly enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
"Since 1955,14 General Elections and hundreds of by-elections have been held in order for our electorate to vote on their members of parliament and state assemblymen.
"Campaigning for these elections represent the heart of parliamentary democracy," added Thomas.
Political parties have cried foul of the announcement that police permits were needed for walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning in Tanjung Piai.