PKR polls chief wants contenders to pull punches

By Neville Spykerman, The Malaysian Insider

PETALING JAYA, Sept 13 — PKR’s national election committee has advised supporters of candidates vying for positions to turn down the rhetoric and refer to the party election code of conduct before the mudslinging goes too far.

Its chief, Dr Molly Cheah, told The Malaysian Insider that it has already noted several election guideline infractions in the race for the PKR deputy president’s post — even before official nominations.

“Technically they are putting the horse before the cart. The candidates have not even been nominated, while some have not even come out to say they will contest,” she said.

The most obvious breach was that members should not abuse their position and powers within the party for the purpose of influencing the election results.

Earlier last week, PKR MPs and assemblymen from Selangor and Negri Sembilan —some of them state executive councillors — came out to endorse Azmin Ali for deputy president’s post.

Dr Cheah said she was disappointed with the conduct of elected representatives for not adhering to the guidelines.

She also took to task PKR supreme council member Datuk Zaid Ibrahim for lamenting to the media that there was a move to discredit him after he announced his intention to contest the deputy presidency.

Dr Cheah pointed out that, despite public interest, the elections were an internal party matter and Zaid’s statements may tarnish PKR’s image.

The former law minister, according to Dr Cheah, should have raised the matter with her committee by lodging a formal complaint.

The election guidelines prohibit members from defaming, insulting or attacking candidates, their personal life or their families while campaigning.

“It’s unfortunate and we are very concerned,” she said of the recent incidents.

The briefing on the election code of conduct had been held at all levels since June and candidates or supporters cannot claim ignorance, she explained.

While the committee had yet to receive any official complaints, Dr Cheah warned that they would not hesitate to take actions if parties were found to have breached guidelines.

She added that it was also in the interest of candidates aiming for top posts to follow the basic rules to prevent the election process from being too bruising.

“PKR needs to close ranks after the elections and no leader wants to inherit a party which is split,” she concluded.