(Malaysiakini) Bersih: EC wrong to remove voters’ names

The Election Commission (EC) has violated the Federal Constitution by removing the names of 84,000 voters from the electoral roll because they still carry old identity cards, according to an election watch group.
And in doing so, it said, the commission has contradicted its previous stand that it could not remove the names of deceased voters because this would be unconstitutional.

EC secretary Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor had said last Sunday that the removal of names was to standardise the roll, in addition to helping the National Registration Department (NRD) to get Malaysians to change to the MyKad.

Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) pro-tem committee member R Sivarasa told a press conference at PKR headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today that the EC “should stop beating around the bush and acting as a stooge of the NRD”.

“It is not the business of the EC to ensure that people change their cards. That’s NRD’s job. It is illegal procedure to stop voters from voting just because they happen to have older, but valid, identity cards,” he said.
Sivarasa, who is also PKR vice-president, said EC chief Abdul Rashid Rahman had told him that Article 119 of the constitution prevents the commission from deleting problematic entries in the roll.
“He said they could not remove the names unless voters are proven dead or are no longer citizens,” Sivarasa said.
(Article 119 guarantees all citizens the right to vote if they above the age of 21 and are registered in the electoral roll.)
DAP parliamentarian for Seputeh, Teresa Kok, another pro-tem committee member, said names of dead voters have yet to be removed from her constituency’s electoral roll.
“There are still many voters who are over the age of 100 in my area. In Ijok (by-election in April), we identified 12 dead voters whose names were on the list. The EC is barking up the wrong tree,” she said.
The commission has asked voters to check the electoral roll, which is being displayed at EC offices, post offices and shopping complexes from today up to July 24.
Gathering on Friday
Bersih also demanded fair access for opposition parties to state-owned television and radio stations.
The group said political advertisements must be accepted and that all media must provide for the right of reply when reporting “negatively” about politicians or parties.
Set up in last November, Bersih has demanded the use of indelible ink in elections, a clean up of the electoral roll and abolition of the current system of postal voting.
Abdul Rashid announced last month that indelible ink would be used in the coming general election to guard against multiple or phantom voting. The National Fatwa Council is currently considering whether the use of the ink is unIslamic.
In another development, Bersih said it will hold a ‘People’s Convention’ – a gathering of opposition politicians and non-government organisations – at the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on Friday night.
PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, PAS president Hadi Awang, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and PSM leader Dr Nasir Hashim are expected to speak at the event.
Others are leaders and representatives from the Malaysian Trade Union Congress, Suaram, Women’s Development Centre, Dema, Centre for Independent Journalism and the Group of Concerned Citizens.
The convention is to raise to awareness “of the bias and unfairness of the electoral system in Malaysia” and to press for electoral reform.