BERSIH challenges Rashid to debate on free and fair elections

Press Release
4 February 2008

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) challenges Tan Sri Rashid to debate on whether Malaysian elections are free and fair if he thinks the criticisms made by the civil society are unfounded. 

BERSIH also expresses its surprise over the Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi’s reaction of the metaphorical gesture of tearing the photo of Election Commission Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman and throwing the pieces into rubbish bin last Friday.
PM should be more concerned about the rudeness of his son-in-law Khairy Jamaluddin against His Majesty Yang DiPertuan Agong and that of the police force against the Parliament.
On January 8, Khairy made a lese majestic claim that dissolution of parliament is the prerogative of the PM while it is in fact a discretionary royal power.
On December 11 2007, the police has invaded the Parliament house and arrested petitioning citizens, making Abdullah on par with Charles I who invaded the English Parliament.
In contrast to these unconstitutional speech and act, the gesture to metaphorically remind Tan Sri Rashid that his reputation will go down the rubbish bin of history if he does not clean up the electoral process was completely peaceful and pro-constitution in spirit.
It is a fitting show of public no-confidence to someone who holds a important position that “enjoys public confidence” according to Article 114(2) of the Federal Constitution.
Tan Sri Rashid has failed to take satisfactory actions on all five demands to improve the electoral process made by BERSIH, a coalition of over 70 civil society groups and political parties.
Firstly, while some names of the deceased voters have been removed, the integrity of electoral rolls remains questionable with dubious mass transfers and problematic registrations. Secondly, the EC has failed to change the by-laws for employing indelible ink, making the measure highly contestable. Thirdly, postal voters are still moved arbitrarily to save BN’s marginal seats.
Fourthly, Tan Sri Rashid has refused to call upon RTM to organized televised leader debate as a move towards free and fair media access for all parties. Lastly, Tan Sri Rashid has also completely ignored BERSIH’s demand for a campaign period of at least 21 days, half of what given by the British in 1955.
It is an insult to Malaysians by the EC and the Prime Minister tried to equate transparent ballot boxes with transparent elections. BERSIH has never asked for transparent boxes, the cost of which have fluctuated between RM 9 million and RM 16 million, providing but another instance of EC’s lack of transparency.
BERSIH calls upon the mainstream media to demonstrate minimum level of journalistic professionalism and ethics by publishing this reply after demonizing BERSIH over the weekend.