MEDIA STATEMENT (2 July 2014)
Once again, the Election Commission of Malaysia has shown to BERSIH 2.0 why the current leadership is not fit to play their role as not only the frontline but the guardian of a fair election system.
The latest nail in the EC’s coffin is the shockingly revealing statement by no less than the chairperson himself, Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusuf, who was reported to have said that the “one man one vote” concept is not practical; he even called it a populist policy.
BERSIH 2.0 wishes to hammer this point home: The “One person, one vote, one value” (OPOVOV) principle is fundamental to the whole idea of elections and electoral representation in a democracy. Without OPOVOV, elections would be rendered meaningless, especially to the elector whose vote is valued less; in GE13, they amounted to 53% of those who voted.
However, BERSIH 2.0 acknowledges that a concession has to be made to accommodate the current conditions in Malaysia, in terms of the geographical spread of the population in different states and even within the states. This concession is provided for in the Federal Constitution, in Section 2(c), Part 1 of the Thirteenth Schedule which, though allowing malapportionment in favour of rural constituencies, where there is “greater difficulty of reaching electors…and the other disadvantages facing rural constituencies”, nevertheless makes clear that “each constituency in a state ought to be approximately equal” in electorate size.
This allowance does not mean the principle of OPOVOV can be made subordinate to administrative convenience and ethnic representation, and apparently completely inapplicable, as implied by the EC chair.
Further, there are ways to make the playing field level, especially for the rural constituencies, such as by improving communications and dissemination of information, as well as having a lengthier campaign period. BERSIH 2.0 has addressed this as part of our original eight demands: a minimum campaign period of 21 days and free and fair access to media.
The importance of the OPOVOV principle is such that it is the first of seven broad parameters of elections that are just or have integrity, as identified by the panel of the People’s Tribunal on Malaysia’s 13th General Elections (GE13). While this may be beyond the understanding of the EC chair, since the Tribunal also found that GE13 failed to meet not only this parameter but the other six as well, BERSIH 2.0 believes Malaysians will not stand for what is tantamount to a subjugation of their democratic and constitutional right.
BERSIH 2.0 calls on all citizens to join us in this crucial fight for OPOVOV through our ongoing Delineation Action and Research Team (DART) campaign. We must be prepared for the upcoming re-delineation by the EC, which is bound to violate this principle since the chair himself has dismissed it as impractical.
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0, which comprises —
Maria Chin Abdullah (Chairperson), Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa (Deputy Chairperson), Masjaliza Hamzah (Treasurer), Farhana Abdul Halim, New Sin Yew, Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah Vice-chair), Ahmad b. Awang Ali (Sarawak Vice-chair), Abd Halim b. Wan Ismail (East Peninsula Vice-chair), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula Vice-chair), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula Vice-chair) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula Vice-chair).