The Election Commission has a love-hate relationship with nomination procedures: in the past candidates disqualifications have been used against Opposition candidates-resulting in numerous disqualification that allowed walk-over for the incumbent party candidates. But lately the same rules used to trip Opposition candidates have caught the BN candidates on numerous occasions, particularly on the submission of campaign expenses from past elections. In 2004 the then UMNO president Abdullah Badawi and another Assemblyman candidate in Kepala Batas were caught without the filed campaign expenses on nomination day-but they still get themselves nominated in contrast to how previous Opposition candidates had to suffer from it. Then in Sarawak state election no less than a brother of the Chief Minister was caught without the filed expenses from previous poll. Again the paper mysteriously appeared after lunch time! Of course he was accepted as a candidate!
But the fall-out must be huge for the EC-who must have been given some heavy scolding from the ruling party! After that the EC decided to take away the power of voters and political parties to object to candidates nominated. The Returning Officer will be given the sole prerogative to accept the candidates! So what if the RO decide to disqualify half of the Opposition candidates-does it mean that the incumbent parties will win on nomination day? This is a serious change that take away the voters’ and the Opposition parties’ right to make objections to candidatures of any party based on established rules! Unaccountable power given to the hands of the RO will likely to be abused-and this time the disqualified candidates may not even know on what ground they are disqualified! This turn of event is going backward from a previous time when the EC was enlightened enough to consider lengthening the nomination period to 2 days to close the gap with international best practices of opening nomination for weeks or months! So instead of allowing nomination to be elaborated more and be scrutinised by more people the EC has in 1 stroke of a pen, rewritten the rules to turn their back on making the election process more transparent and fair to all sides.