Malaysia's Election Commission denies October polling date in viral video

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday (Aug 2) denied that the country's election is imminent after a video clip showing its officers conducting training for the polls was leaked.

In the 39-second video, a man is seen announcing to a roomful of people that early voting for the 14th general election (GE14) would be held in October this year. In the footage, which was circulated via messaging app WhatsApp, a yellow EC tape is used to cordon off an area inside the room.

In a statement, EC chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah said that the Oct 13 date mentioned by an EC official in the video was merely a date selected for training and simulation purposes.

Datuk Seri Hashim said the training session where the video was recorded was a briefing for Kelantan Returning Officers and Assistant Returning Officers for GE14. The session was held in Kota Baru on July 31, he said. 

He added that the spread of the video on social media had created confusion among the public about the dates for GE14.

"As such, the EC hopes that no one will be taken in by allegations saying that the dates for GE14 have already been fixed," he said.

Earlier, an EC official contacted by The Star also denied that GE14 was imminent, saying it was "merely a simulation of an election announcement made during a briefing session for GE14 workers". 

The official added that the EC has been conducting briefing and training sessions to prepare its workers and others assigned to help in the polls.

"It's just training, nothing out of the ordinary as we have been conducting these sessions routinely and in stages in each state," said the official.

Malaysia's next general election is not due until August next year, but there is wide speculation that it will be held in September or October, or early next year.