PETALING JAYA – Linking the Election Commission (EC) to claims that the 14th general election (GE14) is imminent is becoming a national pastime.
In the past six months, the EC has been linked to speculation that GE14 is just around the corner no less than four times.
In the latest episode, a video footage of an EC training session showing a man announcing Oct 13 this year as the polling date for GE14 was leaked and spread on Whatsapp over the past few days.
An EC official contacted by The Star yesterday morning denied that the polls would be on Oct 13.
Minutes later, a statement surfaced on social media and spread on Whatsapp.
Bearing the EC’s name, it claimed the Commission was considering legal action against those who spread fake news.
Contacted again and shown the document, the EC official said that the purported statement was in fact a fake, as the EC had not issued its official clarification yet at that point.
At 1.58pm, Commission chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Hashim Abdullah released a statement where he expressed disappointment with irresponsible individuals who recorded and leaked the video footage.
Mohd Hashim said that the spread of the video on social media has created confusion among the public about the dates for GE14.
He explained that the Oct 13 date mentioned by an EC official in the video was merely a date selected randomly for training and simulation purposes.
Hashim said the training session where the video was recorded was a briefing for Kelantan Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers for GE14 held in Kota Baru on July 31.
“As such, the EC hopes that no one will be taken in by allegations saying that the dates for GE14 have already been fixed,” Hashim said, adding that briefing sessions for all GE14 workers were being held nationwide, and started early this year.
On Feb 17, a newspaper advertisement by the EC for tenders involving ballot boxes and sling bags sparked speculation that GE14 was imminent.
Then, on May 28, an empty webpage in the EC website was found with the title: “General Election Results for Parliamentary Seats in each state for 2017”.
The webpage – which is no longer available – also triggered another round of speculation about looming polls.
The EC has in the past explained that the dates it sets for general elections follow a definite procedure and timeline.
Following the dissolution of Parliament, the EC will hold what is known as a Special Meeting to decide and announce nomination and polling dates.
The Commission then issues a writ or letter of authority to the returning officers.
The writ must be issued at least four days before nomination day.
At the same time, the Commission will gazette and put up for public display a notice on the dates for nomination and polling.
Advanced voting for qualified military, police and General Operations Force personnel and their spouses must be done no earlier than 11 days after nomination day.
Polling day for ordinary voters will then be held, at least three days after advanced voting.
A mandatory minimum time frame of at least 14 days is required from nomination day to polling day for ordinary voters. – The Star Online