The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) calls upon the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to immediately advise the DYMM Yang Di Pertuan Agong to convene a Royal Commission of Inquiry on electoral misconducts in the run-up to the 14th General Election (GE14) to allay public disquiet over serious allegations of misconducts by the former Election Commissioners who attempted to subvert democracy in Malaysia by denying us a free and fair election.
Bersih 2.0 had submitted a letter to the PM on 14th August 2018 calling on him to convene a Tribunal to investigate and remove the Election Commissioners who had conducted GE14. At that time, they remained as Commissioners, except for the previous Chairman Hashim Abdullah who had resigned earlier. When news of a Tribunal was being formed, all six resigned but dated their resignation to take effect from 1st January 2019. After several hearings, it is most unfortunate that in a 3-2 decision, the Tribunal panel chaired by Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong decided that the matter was academic because all six EC members had resigned.
Bersih 2.0 is of the view that justice took a back seat to expediency with the decision of the Tribunal panel on 24th May 2019. The message sent was that public officials can escape misconducts by resigning before they can be investigated and that cost, time and energy are more important than seeking justice.
As such, Bersih 2.0 believes that the next course of action should be a RCI with the following proposed Terms of Reference:
- To inquire into
- any misconducts, abuses of power or shortcomings by the former Election Commission members and others in the conduct of the election process of the 14th General Election;
- any acts of manipulation of the electoral roll by the Election Commission and/or failure to maintain the integrity of the electoral roll through the negligence of duty to prevent fraud prior to the 14th General Election;
- any violations of Malaysian laws and/or manipulation of the electoral boundaries during the delimitation exercises conducted by the Election Commission during the 6th Delimitation exercise for Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsula.
- To recommend any actions to be taken against the former Election Commission members and others who were complicit with regard to the findings;
- To recommend any amendments or changes in laws and regulations to strengthen the electoral system.
The period that the investigation and inquiry cover should be from 6th May 2013 to 10th May 2018, that is, post-GE13 right up to the announcement of results for GE14. As such, all the Commissioners who were in office before GE14 must be investigated. They would include but not limited to the following:
- Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah (Former Chairman)
- Tan Sri Othman bin Haji Mahmood (Former Deputy Chairman)
- Dato’ Md Yusop bin Haji Mansor
- Datuk Haji Abdul Aziz bin Khalidin
- Haji Sulaiman bin Haji Narawi
- Dato’ Bala Singam a/l Karupiah
- Dato’ Leo Chong Cheong
As to the composition of the RCI members, it is of utmost importance that they be persons of integrity, unquestionable intellectual honesty, courage and independence who commands the confidence of the public. They could comprise of former judges, law professors, lawyers and credible members of the civil society.
Some of the issues that the RCI should investigate includes, but not limited to the conduct of the Election Commission with regard to:
- Unconstitutional re-delineation of electoral boundaries that led to gross malapportionment and gerrymandering of constituencies. These were done to give an unfair electoral advantage to Barisan Nasional (BN).
- Misleading the Malaysian public in the 6th Delimitation of the States of Malaya by publishing a 1st Proposal that is substantially tainted with malapportionment, gerrymandering & racially demarcated boundaries, a 2nd Proposal where these elements were substantially reduced but eventually producing a Final Report that substantially reverted back to the 1st Proposal.
- The destruction of voters’ addresses in the electoral roll resulting in almost 15% of records of voters without addresses. In Selangor alone, there were 136,272 voters without addresses.
- The implementation of a flawed overseas postal voting system for GE14 that made it almost impossible for registered overseas voters to send back their ballots by polling day on 9th May 2018.
- The decision to fix Polling Day of GE14 on a weekday (Wednesday) without any basis and explanation, and therefore had intended and/or caused suppression of voter turnout as well as causing massive inconvenience to voters working outstation or overseas.
- The decision to set the minimum Campaign Period of 11 days without any basis and explanation, and therefore had intended and/or caused suppression of voter outreach by political parties, especially those with no access to mainstream media, denied voters adequate time to make an informed decision.
- The decision to disallow accredited observation and oversight of GE14 by independent electoral observers, including statutory bodies such as SUHAKAM, and therefore had prevented meaningful accountability and transparency on the conduct of GE14.
- The decision to close polling stations at 5.00pm and/or disallowing citizens who were still queuing at voting channels to cast their ballot after 5.00pm during GE14, despite being aware of the rampant complaints of long lines at voting channels as a result of organizational inefficiency, and therefore had denied many citizens’ their constitutional right to vote.
- The failure and/or unreasonable delay of numerous presiding officers to sign the requisite Form 14 after the counting of votes during GE14, causing delays in the announcement of official results for several constituencies.
- The failure and/or unreasonable delay to announce official results from around the country after 9.00pm on 9th May 2018, resuming only after 1.00am on 10th May 2018, thereby putting the country on a dangerously uncertain situation that fueled wild speculations.
- The registering and/or shifting of voters into constituencies which they are not resident of and which they are not entitled to vote in prior to GE14.
- The registration and/or shifting of army voters into marginal constituencies even before the barracks were fully completed with the intention of bolstering votes for BN politicians during GE14.
- The unconstitutional changing of electoral boundaries through the “belah bahagian” exercise between December 2015 to April 2016 before the initiation of the delimitation exercise.
Bersih 2.0 stand ready to assist the RCI panel and the Attorney-General to furnish expert witnesses, eyewitnesses of misconducts, data evidence and other necessary assistance to proof the above serious allegations against these former Election Commissioners.
The greater importance of the RCI on Electoral Misconducts During GE14 goes beyond identifying and punishing those who have committed wrongdoing, but to unearth the truth for the purpose of identifying weaknesses and shortcomings in our electoral system, so that steps could be taken to reform the system and restore public confidence in our elections, which is the bedrock of our parliamentary democracy. Without free and fair elections, the legitimacy of any elected candidate or government would be diminished. We strongly urge Tun Mahathir to convene the RCI without delay.
Satukan Tenaga, Malaysia Baru.
Statement issued by:
Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0