MEDIA RELEASE (3 Nov)
Our 13th General Election (GE13) is perhaps most remembered for the indelible ink fiasco, but what are the lessons that we can take away from it to ensure that this and the other irregularities are not repeated as well in the next general elections?
To reignite public discussion on this, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) is organising a forum this Wednesday (5 Nov) in Kuala Lumpur.
“It is very timely to remind ourselves of the findings of the People’s Tribunal because of the proposal by the EC (Election Commission) to proceed with the delineation exercise,” said former BERSIH 2.0 co-chairperson Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan, who will be among those speaking at the forum.
Ambiga was referring to the 2 Nov BERNAMA report of the EC’s announcement that notice of the redelineation of parliamentary and state legislative boundaries will be gazetted at the end of the year.
The People’s Tribunal had stressed that laws and principles on constituency delineation must be properly applied. Yet, the EC appears to give lesser priority to the principle of “one person, one vote, one value” in favour of much greater weightage to the rural vote.
Although there appears to be no accountability for the many failures of GE13 as identified by the People’s Tribunal, Ambiga urged the public to stay on course for electoral reform.
“We must not take our eye off the ball. We must remember and let the People’s Tribunal be a reminder of the fact that GE13 was not clean and fair and we must continue to strive for free and fair elections for the next generation,” she said.
BERSIH 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah, who will also be speaking at the forum, stressed the urgency for action now.
“We cannot wait until the elections are around the corner to act. We have to be vigilant against rampant manipulation by the very institutions that are entrusted to deliver our fundamental right to self-determination. This requires continuous public involvement in holding them to account,” she said.
Indeed, a parting advice from the Tribunal was that the people, too, must take responsibility for the integrity and reform of the electoral system.
The Tribunal panel had also warned: “If elections fail as a way of changing things, in many countries people have resorted to more direct—and violent—action, a particular risk in ethnically divided countries.”
On this point, Chin said, “It is clear that ensuring free and fair elections is also in the interest of the ruling party, if it is indeed serious about maintaining public order and harmony.”
She called on the public to attend the forum so that they will be better informed of the recommendations of the Tribunal, which have been published in a report in English and Malay. The report is available for a donation of RM20 each and can be downloaded for free from the BERSIH 2.0 website.
Titled “GE13: Clean and Fair? The verdict of the People’s Tribunal”, the forum will be held at Mandarin Court Hotel (opposite Maharajalela monorail station) at 8pm. Also speaking is Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar, Lead Counsel of the Tribunal.