11 May 2012
BERSIH 2.0 welcomes the decision by the Government to totally withdraw the Election Offences (Amendment) Act 2012. This is a small but significant victory for the rakyat and a triumph of common sense.
These amendments should never have been made in the first place. They do nothing to add to the confidence of the electoral system. In fact, the amendments reduced transparency and accountability on the part of the Election Commission and brought the electoral reforms back to the original unsatisfactory position. The Election Commission acted in bad faith in relation to these amendments because at no time during the entire length of the work of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform did the Election Commission even hint that such amendments were being proposed. Instead, they were only disclosed in the dying days of the last session of the Dewan Rakyat. They were hurriedly passed in a post-midnight sitting when Parliament’s clocks were stopped so that the Dewan Rakyat could pretend it was still the previous day.
In the aftermath of the withdrawal of the amendments, the country is now witnessing the rantings and ravings of the Deputy Chairperson of the Election Commission. Like a spoilt child who does not get its way, his public outbursts have demonstrated once again why he is unfit to continue in his job. Still embroiled in the controversy surrounding his “yes I was no I never was” alleged membership in a major political party, and having reportedly stated to a local daily newspaper that he sees himself as a “kakitangan kerajaan” (employee of Government) when his position as Deputy Chairperson of the Election Commission calls for him to be independent of Government, he has failed to satisfy the rakyat that he is impartial or able to discharge his functions with integrity. We renew our call for him to resign.
We need Election Commissioners we can trust, and who enjoy the confidence of the rakyat. This was one of the messages sent by more than 250,000 Malaysians both in Malaysia and around the world who came out in support of clean, free and fair elections on 28 April 2012.
Much more still needs to be done to ensure that we can enjoy clean, free and fair elections in Malaysia, and the time available to implement our 8 main demands before the next General Election is running short. Even on issues where the Election Commission has made some progress, efforts are half-hearted and solutions are half-baked. For example, while rules have been made for the use of indelible ink for voters voting on polling day, there are no rules as to whether advance or postal voters will be similarly marked, and how this will be done. Given that the abuse of advance or postal votes and multiple voting are major concerns, this issue has not been comprehensively addressed. Also, the Election Commission is wasting precious time and resources to refute allegations of irregularities in the electoral roll, instead of getting on with the critical work of checking and verifying the main electoral roll. The Election Commission under the present leadership has lost its mission focus and sense of priorities.
We need good Election Commissioners who will propose good laws and practices for the good of the rakyat and the electoral system. Let’s get on with the job.
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0)
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Co-Chairperson), Datuk A. Samad Said (Co-Chairperson), Ahmad Shukri Abdul Razab, Andrew Ambrose, Andrew Khoo, Anne Lasimbang, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Awang Abdillah, Dr Farouk Musa, Hishamuddin Rais, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Matthew Vincent, Niloh Ason, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh, Zaid Kamaruddin.