Andrew Ong | Feb 1, 08 (Malaysiakini)
The venue for electoral reforms group Bersih’s second mass rally, dubbed the ‘Jom Bersih’ carnival, will now be held in Kuala Terengganu instead of the Klang Valley.
Bersih secretariat member Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi told reporters today that Bersih failed to book a large capacity venue, despite having approached many stadium owners throughout the Klang Valley.
The group now plans to hold the event, possibly on a private property, in Kuala Terengganu on Feb 22 instead of Feb 23 as originally planned.
Another Bersih secretariat member Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad said it was important to proceed with the event as it would include programmes to instill public awareness on the need for clean and fair polls.
“Regardless of when the general election is going to be held, we are determined to continue with ‘Jom Bersih’ because so far, the Election Commission (EC) has only met one of our demands,” he told the same press conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning.
EC had, after several meetings with Bersih delegates last year, announced late in the year that it would implement the use of indelible ink to mark voters who had cast their ballots.
EC chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said in August last year that the move was to put to rest claims by opposition parties that there were ‘phantom voters’ who would cast their votes more than once.
However, Bersih has repeatedly argued that EC had failed to heed other demands such as the abolishment of postal votes, ‘cleaning up’ the electoral rolls and extending campaigning periods to at least 21 days.
Following this, Bersih held a mass rally on Nov 10 where an estimated 30,000 people flooded the streets of Kuala Lumpur in a procession to accompany Bersih leaders in handing over a petition to the king.
On whether Bersih was bowing out to pressure from the authorities not to hold the event in the Klang Valley, Dzulkifli said that Bersih had never intended to be confrontational.
“Our purpose is to send a message across that the people want free and fair elections,” he said.
Earlier at the press conference, the Bersih representatives held a symbolic tearing of photocopies of Abdul Rashid’s portrait. The scraps of paper was then thrown into a garbage bin.
Asked on the purpose of the move, Dzulkifli said Bersih wanted to send a message to Abdul Rashid that he was hampering efforts to reform the electoral process.
“Our purpose is not to attack Abdul Rashid as an individual. However, we are of the opinion that he is the greatest stumbling block to electoral reforms.
“Instead of concentrating on our demands, he had instead (among others) encouraged us to boycott the elections. How can he say that as the person entrusted to run elections in Malaysia?” said Dzulkifli.
Previously, Abdul Rashid had warned Bersih that he would implement the shortest campaigning period ever should they continue their electoral reforms campaign.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Abdul Rashid threatened to sue those who take to the streets and discredit the EC.
Abdul Rashid also claimed that such individuals were “traitors” for hurting the image of the country where vote-rigging is “not possible”.
Another Bersih secretariat member Wong Chin Huat said Abdul Rashid should rightfully be more concerned on his pledge last year to implement the use of indelible ink.
Wong said Abdul Rashid had yet to table any amendments to elections laws that would legislate the use of indelible ink.
Should the laws not be passed, Wong said voters can demand not to be subjected to being marked with the indelible ink.
“The rightful thing for him to do now is to advise the prime minister to defer the elections until after the next parliamentary sitting where the amendments can be passed,” he said.
K. T'ganu venue for Jom Bersih bash
Andrew Ong | Feb 1, 08 (Malaysiakini)