KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 — The prime minister is obligated to follow the law and investigate the Election Commission (EC) chairman and deputy chairman over possible deception about their membership in Umno, said Datuk Mat Zain Ibrahim today.
The statement by the retired former city Criminal Investigation Department chief comes on top of criticisms by the electoral reform movement Bersih over the impartiality of the head of the commission in charge of overseeing the country's polls and is another test of Datuk Seri Najib Razak's commitment to reforms ahead of the upcoming general election.
Mat Zain said that the position of EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof (picture) and his deputy Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar had become untenable since it was revealed that they were members of the ruling party, urging Najib to form a tribunal to establish whether they had insulted the royal institution by not disclosing their political ties before being appointed.
"Whether they quit voluntarily or whether they are sacked via a tribunal, it will not cleanse them from the wrongdoing of hiding material facts from the knowledge of the Conference of Rulers and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong with regards to their appointment," he wrote in an open letter to Najib.
"Whether the EC chairman or his deputy had committed the omission wilfully or not and consciously or unconsc! iously, what is done is done. Your honourable self is obligated to carry out the duty of a prime minister and respect the laws of the land."
The former top cop said that under the Elections Act, those who are appointed chief electors must not be current or former members of any political party or employees of any public service agency or GLC.
He suggested that had the two men in question revealed their membership in Umno, they would not have been appointed to their respective positions by the King who understood the need for those who headed the commission to command public confidence as required by the Constitution.
Mat Zain alleged that what could have happened was the EC chairman and his deputy "deceived" the King and the Conference of Rulers to make them believe that they were free from any encumbrances that would prevent them from being appointed.
Both Abdul Aziz and Wan Ahmad admitted last week that they could have been Umno members a long time ago, but stressed that it did not affect their ability to carry out their professional duties.
Bersih co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said that the two men should have disclosed their membership before being appointed.
PKR also demanded Abdul Aziz and Wan Ahmad resign from their posts, and furnished evidence to show that the two are still Umno members.
"This is the only EC in the world where its chief and his deputy are officially members of a party that contests elections," PKR secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasu! tion sai d.
Abdul Aziz became EC chairman on January 2009 while Wan Ahmad was appointed in 2007