Oct 25, 07
Bersih, the election watchdog coalition for clean and fair elections, has lambasted de facto law minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz over his claim that the Election Commission is not independent.
In a statement, Bersih – made up of five opposition political parties and 26 NGOs – expressed shock over Nazri’s remarks in Parliament yesterday that the EC is a creature of the EC Act and that it is subject to legislative approval on related matters.
“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, it does not mean that the EC cannot be independent,” the coalition said.
“Parliament also makes the law that sets up the Anti-Corruption Agency. It does not mean that the ACA automatically cannot function as an independent agency.”
It said the minister’s “arrogant views only confirm the current authoritarian state of affairs” and that his remarks have confirmed that the EC does not behave independently.
Bersih also expressed surprise at Nazri’s reply to Mahadzir Mohd. Khir’s (BN-Sungei Petani) that the government is awaiting “official approval” from the National Fatwa Council on the permissibility of using indelible ink on Muslim voters.
The coalition pointed out that the council had approved the use of indelible ink on Aug 8 and the decision has been acknowledged by the EC.
The findings concluded that the green ink to be used is free of ‘unclean’ elements that could render Muslim ablutions void.
Bersih also commented on a Utusan Malaysia report yesterday, in which the government announced that holders of old identity cards will be allowed to vote in the upcoming general election.
“(We) feel that any decision with regard to voter identification and the voting process lies with the EC based on the principles of clean, free and fair elections,” it said.
“The government of the day should have no say in the matter as it is a party with vested interest in an election.”
Bersih, which has been pressing for electoral reform, will hold a rally at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, on Nov 10.
It will submit a memorandum to the King outlining immediate and long-term measures, including thorough cleanup of the electoral roll, abolition of postal voting for military and police personnel, and fair access to the mass media for all political parties.
Bersih slams Nazri’s ‘arrogant views’