RELA must not be exploited for political gains

Press Statement: 8 April 2011

RELA must not be exploited for political gains

BERSIH 2.0 is appalled at the outright abuse of power by state administrative personnel for purposes of political gains in the upcoming Sarawak state elections. On 5 April, The Borneo Post reported that the political secretary to the Sarawak Chief Minister, Wilso Nyabong Ijang, called on Ikatan Relawan Rakyat (RELA) members to be loyal to the government by ensuring victory for Barisan National candidates . Ijang gave this statement when giving closing remarks for a RELA training last Saturday.

BERSIH 2.0 stresses that civil servants must respect the principle of separation of powers which requires civil servants to be non-partisan in carrying out their duties. The statement of Ijang constitutes a violation of Sub-section 169(1) of The State Public Service General Orders 1996 which states “An officer…shall not engage in canvassing of any candidate at an election to any office in any political party.”

Furthermore, this incident has confirmed suspicions by certain quarters that the aggressive recruitment of RELA members is a political move by the Barisan Nasional government in preparation for the upcoming general elections. On 4 April 2011, the Home Ministry revealed in a parliamentary written reply to MP Teresa Kok that there has been a 477% increase in RELA members between 2008 until 2010. As of 31 December 2011, there are 2,593,263 RELA members with 1,511,730 members recruited in 2010 alone. There have also been rumours circulating that RELA members will be allowed to vote as postal voters.

BERSIH 2.0 urges that disciplinary action be taken against Ijang and to ensure that civil servants respect the principle of separation of powers when carrying out official duties.

BERSIH 2.0 urges the Home Ministry to clarify its intention for the ongoing aggressive recruitment of RELA members. The Election Commission (EC) must also quell further rumours by shedding light on whether RELA members will be allowed to vote as postal voters.

BERSIH 2.0 calls on all federal and state civil servants to uphold the principle of separation of powers by not campaigning for any political parties.

Issued by,
Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee

The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Chairperson), Andrew Khoo, Arumugam K., Dr Farouk Musa, Haris Ibrahim, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Datuk Yeo Yang Poh, Zaid Kamaruddin, Subramaniam Pillay and Arul Prakkash.