The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) is organizing a candlelight vigil this Sunday (9 November) in Petaling Jaya with a midnight countdown to usher in 10 November, the first anniversary of the 50,000-strong BERSIH rally last year.
BERSIH opines that the 10 November rally – together with the Bar Council’s 26 September “Walk for Justice” and Hindraf’s 25 November protest rally last year – paved the way for the political tsunami on 8 March 2008. It is unfortunate however that the message of change has not been heeded by the ruling coalition of Barisan Nasional (BN). Without increasing public demand, the democratization process will continue to be impeded.
Instead of implementing institutional reforms in the judiciary, police force, Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), media laws or the electoral process, the BN government has demonstrated increasing signs of authoritarianism such as the recent ISA arrests, the issuance of warnings to four newspapers to toe the official line, the banning of Hindraf and the scrapping of a Chinese-language talk show.
BERSIH reminds the public that the cleanness and fairness of the electoral process for the next General Election – be it in 2009, 2013 or anytime in between – will be more important than ever as Malaysia cannot afford to have a government with questionable legitimacy. Such a government is likely to deter foreign direct investment and exarcebate the brain drain problem, more so at a time of global economic depression.
Hence, the Parliament and Election Commission must implement the following five fundamental reforms as soon as possible:
• a comprehensive cleanup and update of the electoral roll
• the employment of indelible ink to prevent multiple voting
• the abolition of (domestic) postal voting for security personnel and spouses
• a minimum campaign period of 21 days
• reform of media laws to enable candidates to have free and fair access to the media
The candlelight vigil will be held at the MBPJ stadium opposite Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya where vigils for prisoners of conscience – those detained under the draconian Internal Security Act – have been held for four consecutive weeks now, attracting hundreds of ordinary citizens. The candlelight vigil will feature speakers from both civil society groups and political parties.
BERSIH emphasizes that the call for electoral reform goes hand-in-hand with our stand on the abolition of the ISA and our demands for media freedom, as we push for a democratic and free Malaysia.
An anti-ISA gathering in Ipoh on the same night will also commemorate the first anniversary of the BERSIH rally. Members of the public are encouraged to hold their own candlelight vigils elsewhere in the country to light up ‘a better tomorrow’ for our beloved nation.
BERSIH to commemorate 10 November with Countdown Vigil