"The Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum’s comments that a stolen laptop contained an electronic copy of the National Voters Register including analysis of statistical data like “including division by age, gender, distribution etc.” proves that Government has been deliberately suppressing this extremely vital information from political parties despite official requests for the release of an electronic copy of the Register.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s coments in the Fiji Sun (Tuesday 25th February, Poll Data "Stolen") also demonstrate that Government has been deliberately withholding this critical information to place its proposed political party in an advantageous position while feeding scraps to political parties in the form of bulky hard copies of the National Voters Register. This in itself is not a level-playing field and undermines the conduct of free and fair elections.
His comments reveal that Government, using taxpayer funds, has been analyzing the National Voters Register to use the statistical data for its proposed political party while denying access and availability of the electronic copy of the roll itself to political parties.
This is exactly why the NFP has been insisting for the last two years that electoral preparation must be conducted by a caretaker government, not by the Regime that makes all laws without consultation and uses them to its own advantage.
The NFP had written to the Permanent Secretary Responsible for Elections on 30th January 2014 requesting an electronic copy of the National Voters Register as per the provisions of the Electoral (Registration of Voters) Decree 2014. But the Permanent Secretary has not responded to our letter until this day.
The revelation by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also destroys the credibility of his comments to the Electoral Commission soon after the appointment of the 7-member Commission about the need for the polls not to be dodgy but free and fair.
The NFP does not condone the theft of the laptop. This must be investigated and due process followed. The information contained with respect to the voter registration is not a sensitive issue. In fact the Electoral Commission should have released all the information on the voter registration to all the political parties by now and we call on the Commission to do so immediately.
More seriously the warning by A-G to the Commission is tantamount to saying that the Commission still reports to him. This is uncalled for, disrespectful, unacceptable and a direct attack on the Commission and its independence. Surely the Chairman of the Commission and its members understand the seriousness of any theft of items from Elections Office and procedures to follow to deal with such situations.
The Commission must not sack any staff without proper investigation and due process as suggested by the A-G because to do so will be unjustified and unlawful. We hasten to point out that the staff and set-up that the Commission inherited was under the direction of Mr Sayed-Khaiyum in his capacity as Electoral Commission until the appointment of the Commission just last month. The comment by the A-G therefore is nothing less than direct interference in the work of the Commission.
Finally, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum’s assertion that political parties may be involved in the theft is a figment of his imagination. He must furnish evidence, if any, of such involvement to police and not taint political parties by his ludicrous theories." Raman Singh, President, February 25, 2014
Khaiyum says staff dismissed: “As you know the Electoral Office falls under the jurisdiction of the Electoral Commission, we notified the Prime Minister and immediately told the Electoral Commission to terminate the services of these two officers, because there is no other way to deal with such matters."
NFP says Aiyaz Khaiyum's comments on stolen laptop with data tarnish credibility: "Government deliberately withholding critical information to place its proposed political party in advantageous position while feeding scraps to political parties"