Uphold Democracy, Support Bersih Rally on Saturday!

Press Statement
6 November 2007

Youth For Change (Y4C) fully supports the people’s gathering which will be organized by the Coalition For Free and Fair Elections (BERSIH). This gathering is not only a platform for people to demand a free, fair and clean election system, but it also shows the people’s determination in demanding electoral reform.

The electoral system is a basic indicator of a democratic country. It is a pseudo-democracy if injustice, corruption and the lack of freedom occurs in a country’s elections. Issues such as phantom voters, changing the electoral rolls, gerrymandering, insufficient time for campaigning, unfair media access and using the media as the mouthpiece of the state are all obstacles to upholding democratic values.
Therefore, the Election Commission as a watch-dog of the election system should be fair and non-partisan, as well as relentlessly implement the principle of democracy. If citizens are to be the owners of a country, they have to eradicate the obstacles that prevent democracy. Voting every five years is no guarantee of a democratic country, if our votes don’t follow the principle of “one person one vote”. Therefore it is an urgent task for us to reform this electoral system!
In order to ensure that there is no chaos and disturbance, Y4C urges the police to issue the permit to BERSIH immediately. The police should acknowledge the people’s right of assembly and expression. They should coordinate with the organisers to ensure order and security during the gathering. The police are civil servants, who serve all the people of this country. They should be fair and professional in providing people with a peaceful, rational and non-violent situation to express their voices.
Article 10 of the Federal Constitution enshrines the rights of expression, assembly and association. The government and police should play their rightful roles of protecting people’s rights and freedom. The excuses that such a gathering will scare off investors and create chaos shouldn’t be used to stop the people from practising their rights.
There are many developed countries and regions such as United States, Canada, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong that could be our reference. Although they have rallies and demonstrations, it neither scares off investors nor affects economic stability. On the contrary, the freedom of expression allowed by these countries shows them as civilised and mature. It becomes one of the key reasons to attract foreign investors.
Finally, Y4C calls upon the public, especially youth, to wear a yellow shirt and join the People’s gathering this Saturday (10 November) at Dataran Merdeka. Let’s support electoral and democracy reform in our country! We are going to send a memorandum to the palace. The memorandum is to pressure the government to reform the electoral system.