Ensure Substantive Terms of Reference and Timeframe for the Proposed Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reform

BERSIH 2.0 welcomes the announcement made by the Prime Minister to have a bipartisan Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reform. We hold that whether the PSC will meet public expectations for a comprehensive electoral reform is dependant on the Term of Reference and whether its recommendations will be implemented before the next General Elections.
In order for the proposed PSC to be successful, BERSIH 2.0 would like to put forward the following recommendations to be included in its Terms of Reference:
I.            That the PSC will submit two reports respectively for:
a.       Immediate reforms that must be carried out before the next General and State Elections; and
b.      Other reforms that must be carried out within two years after the formation of the PSC.
The first report must be completed within three months of the formation of the PSC and the second report within a year.
II.            That the PSC’s reports will contain, in ready-to-use formats, recommendations for:
a.       Necessary amendments of the Constitution, Laws and by-laws to be initiated by the Executive;
b.      Necessary measures to ensure full compliance of election laws by all public authorities; and
c.       Prosecution by the Attorney-General Chambers in instances where crimes are found to be committed.
This is to ensure the legislative, policy drafting and enforcement process can be expedited.
III.            That the PSC will have the necessary power to call on public officials to provide information and to conduct nationwide consultation exercise involving all stakeholders and concerned citizens. The entire process must be open and fully recorded in its reports.
IV.            That the PSC shall study and recommend the following matters in its two reports:
A.        The First Report on Immediate Reforms (to be released after three months of the PSC’s formation)
1.    Automatic voter registration, via synchronization of the Election Commission (EC) and the National Registration Department (NRD) databases, to ensure the 3.7 million (and counting) unregistered voters are enfranchised before the next elections.
2.    Automatic update of voters’ data, via synchronization of the EC and NRD databases to:
a.         Automatically delete all names of the deceased on the NRD database from the electoral rolls
b.        Weed out all multiply-registered voters and fraudulent/flawed registrations like Kg Baru
c.         Automatically update addresses of voters (whose existing addresses are incomplete or outdated) should they still remain in the same constituency and polling district
3.    Formulation of procedures to:
a.         Identify and delete all other fraudulent registrations
b.        Reverse and prevent involuntary transfer of voters
4.    Reduction of voting eligibility age from 21 to 18.
5.    Reform of postal/absentee voting to ensure:
a.         All out-of-constituency voters with valid grounds, whether at home or abroad, whether civilians or members of security force, can apply to be absent voters on a temporary basis
b.        No voters will be made compulsory to vote on postal ballot or other absentee voting facilities
c.         Advanced voting facilities will be provided in all overseas missions and major towns in every state
d.        The entire postal/absentee voting process will be transparent and fully monitored by party agents
6.    Implementation of indelible ink as the simplest and fastest method to rule out multiple voting.
7.    A minimum campaign period of 21 days and clear guidelines to ensure free and fair campaigning.
8.    A guideline for media conduct during elections that contains:
a.         Allocation of airtime to all contestants and televised debate by state media
b.        Free and fair access to private media in both news and advertisements
c.         The right of reply by all contesting parties and candidates negatively reported
9.    Investigations into the vote-buying allegations and legal/administrative measures to stop effectively, via legal/policy reforms and/or better enforcement of laws, including:
a.         Vote-buying using private funds
b.        Subtle vote-buying in the form of giving treats by groups such as the 1Malaysia NGO
c.         Abuse of governmental resources and apparatus by any incumbent Federal or State Governments in elections
10. Observation of the future elections by international and domestic observers.
B.       The Second Report on Other Reforms (to be released within a year after the PSC’s formation)
1.    A study into the last constituency redelineation exercise and proposal to minimize mal-apportionment and gerrymandering of constituencies in the next exercise.
2.    Reform of party and electoral finance, including introduction of public finance, to weed out corruption.
3.    The enactment of an Administrative Neutrality and Caretaker Government Act to ensure a clear separation between the ruling party and the state.
4.    The restoration of Local Elections for local authorities and village committees.
5.    The right for elected representatives to recontest in elections after resignation and the measures to prevent party-hopping.
6.    The introduction of referendum as a form of democratic decision making.
7.    A review of the election petition process to ensure justice for victims of electoral frauds.
8.    A review of the Election Offenses Act 1954 to cover omitted crimes such as frauds committed by election workers.
9.    The term-of-references for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Electoral Reforms to study the larger issues of elections and democracy such as electoral system, a full review of all electoral laws and the membership of the Election Commission.
To show sincerity, the Federal Government must place the establishment of the PSC as the first business for the October 2011 Parliament session, following the session on the national budget. The Government must not for a moment think that it can pacify the public by using the proposed PSC as a delay tactic to stall electoral reforms.
BERSIH 2.0 stresses that its proposal for the first report must be completed and implemented before any elections can take place.
BERSIH 2.0 calls for the Government to stop all harassment of BERSIH 2.0 supporters and to apologise to the families of the late Baharuddin Ahmad for its mishandling, the Emergency Ordinance 6, Mr Hee Tiong Huat who was sent to a mental institution for demonstrating against dirty elections and to all victims who were harassed and arrested during the two-months’ police witchhunt, prior to, during and after the Perhimpunan BERSIH 2.0.
Issued by,
Steering Committee
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0)
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Chairperson), Andrew Khoo, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Dr Farouk Musa, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh and Zaid Kamaruddin.