Looking Forward to More Democracy and Happiness in the New Year
The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (BERSIH) wishes all Malaysians a very happy, prosperous, peaceful, safe, and clean new year in 2008.
Happiness, prosperity, peace, safety and cleanliness however requires a democratic system in which the will and desire of Malaysians can prevail. We invite all Malaysians to resolve to push for clean and fair elections so that we may achieve greater happiness and prosperity.
In 2007, Malaysians achieved much in advancing the agenda for clean and fair elections. In August, the Election Commission conceded to our demand for indelible ink, which will serve as a deterrent to multiple voters. On 10 November, 80,000 peaceful protestors took to the streets to demand for the other unfulfilled reforms with regard to the electoral roll, postal voting and media access. Growing citizens’ awareness is indeed the best 50th birthday present we can give to our beloved Malaysia, whose democracy has been hobbled by electoral manipulation and fraud from the very start.
Whatever we have achieved however can be undone in 2008. If the General Election is conducted in an unclean and unfair manner so as to provide the Barisan Nasional (BN) with another landslide victory, the ruling coalition will claim that Malaysians accept and embrace the elections as clean and fair — in much the same way the use of the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA) is justified by the government.
More danger lies ahead of us. Redelineation of constituencies in Peninsula Malaysia and Sabah will be taking place again in 2010. Public support for the flawed electoral process — via the 2008 General Election — will embolden BN to ‘manufacture’ its win in 2012 or so through malapportionment, gerrymandering and the arbitrary allocation of postal voters.
2008 will therefore be a make-or-break year for our nation’s democratization process.
What we choose to do will affect our well-being not only for the next five years but that of generations to come. If we want ourselves and our children to live happily in a society filled with love, virtue, dignity, a sense of security and prosperity, we must continue soldiering on for electoral reform.
We must continue to pursue the goals that we set in 2007. We must demand for a clean and updated electoral roll so that dead people and phantoms cannot vote. Postal voting for the police and armed forces must be abolished so that they can vote freely and their vote cannot be used to safeguard BN’s marginal seats.
We must demand for a level playing field, above and beyond the polling exercise. We can only make meaningful choices when we have sufficient information. In order to do that, all political parties and candidates must have access to free and fair media access so that they can tell us what they stand for.
We demand for a campaign period of at least 21 days, so that all parties have enough time to convince us why we should vote for them.
We must demand for an Administrative Neutrality Act to limit the power of caretaker governments and stop the abuse of state apparatus for partisan gains. We must also demand for reform in electoral financing, in order to prevent vote-buying and other forms of money politics.
Dear Malaysians, we have a lot to do and a lot to gain in 2008. Let’s make it a truly happy and democratic year!