Nazri says EC not independent; BERSIH says electoral reform therefore mandatory!

23 October 2007

BERSIH, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, is shocked by de facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz’s understanding that the ‘independence’ of the Election Commission does not exist.

In his reply to Abdul Halim Abdul Rahman (PAS-Pengkalan Chepa), Nazri was reported to have said: “We all know that we have the EC Act. If you take that into account, the EC is bound to the legislature and it is also tied to what we would approve.”
Nazri’s understanding of the law is wrong and shallow, to say the least. Just because Parliament makes the laws that form the legal framework for the EC does NOT mean that the EC cannot be independent. To give another example, just because Parliament makes the law that sets up the ACA, does not mean that the ACA automatically cannot function as an independent agency!
Such arrogant views however only confirm the current authoritarian state of affairs. His views only confirm what many observers have said is a political fact – that the Malaysian EC does not behave independently.
Nazri’s views only confirm the fact that electoral reform is urgent and mandatory for the nation!
BERSIH is also surprised at Nazri’s response to an MP’s question on indelible ink. He had told Parliament that the government is awaiting “official approval” from the National Fatwa Council on the permissibility of using indelible ink on Muslim voters.
The Minister appears unaware that the Fatwa Council had approved the use of indelible ink, as reported in The Star on 9 August 2007 with the headline “Fatwa council gives approval for indelible ink”, and that the decision has been acknowledged by the Election Commission.
Further, BERSIH would like to respond to a report in Utusan Malaysia today pertaining to the decision by the government to allow old identity card holders to vote in the upcoming general election.
BERSI feels that any decision with regard to voter identification and the voting process lies with the Election Commission based on the principles of clean, free and fair elections. The government of the day should have no say in the matter as it is a party with vested interest in an election.
For these reasons and all the other unfair and discriminatory practices that exist in Malaysian elections, BERSIH is all the more compelled and committed to persevere in its campaign for electoral reform.
BERSIH urges all Malaysians who are concerned about the rot in our socio-political landscape, particularly in the electoral process, to join us on 10 November 2007 at Dataran Merdeka at 3pm for a peaceful public gathering to demand for clean and fair elections.
All participants are encouraged to wear yellow to demonstrate their protest and indignation, in solidarity with BERSIH’s campaign. We would like to urge all concerned Malaysians to wear yellow – in the form of clothing, armbands, ribbons and so on – in the 10 days leading up to the peaceful gathering..
Enough is enough! It is time the government takes note of our discontent and heed our views.
It is time to paint the country yellow!