Nov 13, 07
Opposition party PAS today slammed Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for accusing polls watchdog Bersih of attempting to politicise the monarchy by holding a massive rally and submitting a memorandum to the king demanding electoral reform.
The Islamist party said the Malay rulers were not merely heads of states but have an essential and vital role in defending democracy if the system is in ruins.
“The Election Commission chairperson is elected through the king’s consent and that is why Bersih decided to submit the memorandum to the king,” stressed PAS secretary-general Kamaruddin Jaffar in a press statement today.
“We believe that Abdullah’s statement has degraded and insulted the rulers and the king whom we view as the ‘umbrella’ of all its sovereign subjects,” he added.
Abdullah yesterday launched a virulent attack on the Bersih rally claiming that the polls watchdog act as a facade for the “opposition parties to trap and drag the monarchy into politics”.
The Bersih rally – dubbed the ‘yellow wave’ – was held last Saturday and drew 40,000 people, the biggest since reformasi, onto the streets of Kuala Lumpur protesting alleged unfair elections. The organisers had then submitted a memorandum to the king to demand electoral reform.
The Malay rulers traditionally distant themselves from politics and have so far chosen to remain silent when it comes to the country’s political affairs until recently, where some have been expressive about the nation’s political situation.
Bersih a coalition, not opposition tool
Kamaruddin also wanted to make it clear that Bersih was a coalition of not just opposition parties but also of NGOs and other civil society groups.
“It is apparent that it’s not only the opposition parties that want electoral reform but society as a whole as well and the PM should be encouraging instead of disparaging the demands,” he argued.
“The people wants electoral reform and this they voice through the memorandum Bersih submitted to the king without being influenced by any foreign forces,” he added.
Bersih is often accused by the authorities as an opposition-dominated organisation disguising itself as a civil-society group to push forth the opposition parties’ agenda.
Bersih, formed in July 2005, is made up of five opposition parties and 67 NGOs – and its objective is to push for a thorough reform of the electoral process in Malaysia.
PAS: PM insulted Malay rulers