26,000 cops to be deployed in polling centres

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KUALA LUMPUR: Twenty-six thousand police officers will be deployed to polling centres throughout the nation in order to monitor the streams of voters casting their ballot.

The Royal Malaysian Police’s (PDRM) Criminal Investigation Department’s legal division principal assistant director Datuk Razali Basri said this will be the biggest election the police will help manage so far.

“The Election Commission [EC] has appointed around 240,000 people to assist in the elections. They expect more than 26,000 streams of voters throughout the country. If we deploy a single officer for each stream, it will mean at least 26,000 officers.

“We are going to be very stretched, and each and every single one of us are going to put in long hours,” said Razali during a media briefing on electoral laws yesterday.

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The EC announced yesterday that the nomination day and the polling day will be April 20 and May 5, respectively.

Razali reminded everyone that during the campaign period, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA 2012) cannot be used if the gathering is of a “political nature”.

“During the election campaign period, the specific law will be the Election Offences Act 1954 (EOA 1954).

This means that if the EOA 1954 has provisions for offences committed, we will utilise the EOA 1954 instead of other laws.

“But there are other laws that will be utilised to support the EOA 1954 such as the Penal Code (including Chapter Six, which details offences against the state).

However, if during the campaign period, there are members of the public who want to hold public gatherings, they can still utilise the PAA 2012,” said Razali.

He also joked that among the additional duties taken by the police will be the “incarceration” of the indelible ink, alongside the ballot papers, in police lock-ups.

“This is part of how we assist the EC, by safekeeping the ballot papers and the indelible ink. So, the most secure place in a police station is our lock up. We double lock it , and there are always police personnel protecting it. And as far as I can remember, no one has ever hijacked it when it was under police custody,” said Razali.

He added that 222 enforcement teams, each comprising at least five members, will also be deployed.

The smallest team will include one police officer with the minimum rank of inspector, a member of the EC, a member of the local council and representatives of the candidates.

“If there are more than two candidates, the team will of course be bigger.

This team will monitor the situation and the candidates’ campaign trail to see if they have committed any offences or otherwise,” said Razali.

The teams will be deployed in each parliamentary constituency.

For more stories, go to www.fz.com, the website for freedom of expression and fairness in articulation

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 11, 2013.

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