2,000 gather for boycott forum

22 January 2007 | 04:22 min
2,000 gather for boycott forum
A large crowd of 2,000 people packed the main hall of the PAS headquarters on Saturday night to hear leaders of component groups representing BERSIH, on the reasons for the Batu Talam by-election boycott by opposition parties.BERSIH, a coalition of political parties and NGOs formed to demand that the country’s election processes and procedures be totally revamped to reflect clean and fair elections, is embarking on a nationwide campaign to educate the public on the inadequacies of the nation’s electoral system.

Amongst the speakers at the forum were PAS chief Abdul Hadi Awang, Anwar Ibrahim Keadilan advisor, Ibrahim Ali former UMNO supreme council member, Anwar Tahir, coordinator penggerak demokrasi, Syed Shahir MTUC president and Yap Swee Seng SUARAM. In his address, Abdul Hadi refuted Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s claims on Friday that the opposition were frightened to contest the by-election for fear of losing. Hadi said that it is the ruling party that’s afraid and this is the reason for their reluctance to revamp the electoral process. Within the opposition there are no criminal cases, no corruption and no ‘Altantunya’, referring to the murder of Mongolian nationals Altantunya Shaariibuu said the PAS president.Anwar said that the decision to boycott wasn’t an easy one but it is imperative that the people be told that their rights as citizens are being robbed by the present government.
Speaking earlier, Suaram’s executive director Yap Swee Seng declared that the present government is illegitimate after the revelation by Election Commission (EC) chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman that there were 180,000 phantom voters in the last general election.
Camera: Shufiyan Shukur