KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 ― The Election Commission’s (EC) former chairman has told the court that he had never approved the regulating body’s destruction of its records of voter addresses during its transition to digital archive around 2002.
Tan Sri Ab Rashid Ab Rahman, who was both the EC secretary from 1979 to 1995 and its chairman from 2000 to 2008, disputed the EC’s claim that it had destroyed the addresses of voters ― including 136,272 Selangor voters who were listed without addresses in the electoral roll used for an 2016 redelineation exercise.
Ab Rashid noted that the EC has an administrative duty ― as an institution tasked wih ensuring integrity and transparency in elections ― to always keep voters’ addresses, saying that he was “shocked” at EC’s claim that such addresses were not relevant in the redelineation process and had been destroyed.
He pointed out that the EC’s commissioners’ consent and approval is mandatory for the destruction of any voter information from its records and systems, especially for such important information like voter addresses.
“As secretary and chairman, I never approved, neither was I aware of any request for the destruction of addresses of voters,” he said in an affidavit that was read out in court today, having noted that such approvals must be done through a meeting which must be recorded with meeting minutes.
He also said voters’ addresses are crucial as the EC needs to use them when sending out letters to voters to inform them and seek clarification of information such as their voting constituencies, believing their destruction would be “illogical”.
“A letter cannot reach an individual voter if the Election Commission only possesses that voter’s locality. It is thus illogical for the Election Commission to destroy the only means of direct communication with individual voters,” he said
“I was in charge when the migration of voter information to a computerised system took place on or around the 2002. I verily believe that there was no decision or policy which resulted in the destruction of addresses of voters from such migration,” he added.
He refuted the EC’s previous claim that information such as voters’ addresses was lost when it switched from a manual system to a digital system and that voter registration documents were destroyed.
Ab Rashid was not present today, but Selangor government’s lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan had read out most of his affidavit in the High Court today.
Ambiga had read it out while presenting arguments on one of four grounds for the Selangor government’s lawsuit, arguing that the EC had acted unconstitutionally by using a “defective” electoral roll containing 136,272 voters without their corresponding addresses listed.
Today is the continued hearing of the Selangor government’s legal challenge against the EC’s proposed redelineation exercise, which the state government said is unconstitutional and should be declared invalid.
The lawsuit was filed last October 19 against the EC, the EC chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah and EC secretary Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh over the alleged unconstitutional redelineation exercise – which includes the renaming of constituencies and the transferring of voters through the redrawing of voting boundaries.
Hearing before High Court judge Azizul Azmi Adnan resumes this afternoon.
MORE TO COME