The Coalition of Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) questions the necessity and rationale behind the additional conditions imposed by the Election Commission (EC) on campaign materials, which prohibit the photos of other individuals to appear either alone or along with the candidate, except for the president and deputy president of the political party of the candidate.
In view of the other larger electoral issues that require immediate attention of the Election Commission to come out with clear guidelines such as discrepancies in the electoral roll, caretaker government, postal voting, advance voting, it is surprising that the EC chose to focus on regulating campaign materials of political parties.
There have been no problems with featuring other individuals in campaign materials of political parties in the past 13 general elections. Why are these additional regulations suddenly needed now?
Will banners, posters, billboards of ceramah, events and activities that features the speakers other than the candidate, president and deputy president of the party of the candidate, be removed from the constituency? Will EC now remove all the posters, billboards and digital screens in Kuala Lumpur that feature Tengku Adnan when he is not a candidate for any parliamentary seat in Kuala Lumpur but Putrajaya?
If implemented, these regulations will effectively ban the appearance of photos of Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim in all constituencies run by Pakatan Harapan under the logo of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
Meanwhile, the Barisan Nasional will have no problems featuring the photos of Najib Razak as the caretaker prime minister and Zahid Hamidi as the care taker deputy prime minister in their materials as they are the president and deputy president of Barisan Nasional.
BERSIH 2.0 holds that the sudden imposition of these new regulations, without consultation with all stakeholders, at the eleventh hour of nomination day, as unreasonable, unfair and a violation of the freedom of expression of political parties. We call for these additional regulations to be withdrawn immediately.
Earlier, the EC has also amended the regulations and made counting of votes to be conducted simultaneously for state and parliament seats on polling day without consultation with all stakeholders. We call on the EC to stop such arbitrary amendments of the regulations and urge the EC to consult all stakeholders before any future amendments.
BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee
Read the statement from the Election Commission here.