Press Statement: 21 December 2011
The EC Must Not Delay Implementation of All the 8 Demands
The Election Commission (EC) is finally making steps towards implementing electoral reform. However, the changes announced are not adequate to ensure a minimum level of standards for a clean and fair election for the next General Election.
Areas of concern:
1. Indelible ink
a. The EC states that the indelible ink has been identified and has been sent for testing to ensure that its contents are safe for Muslims. BERSIH 2.0 is of the view that the implementation of the use of indelible ink must not be delayed on the grounds of religion considering there is already a fatwa issued in 2007 permitting the use of indelible ink for Muslims.
2. Postal voting and advance voting
a. BERSIH 2.0 welcomes the move to implement advance voting for members of the military and General Operations Force (GOF) and their spouses, and the police force, and for the advance voting procedures to be monitored by party agents. However, we call on the EC to move polling centres to places outside of army camps and police bases to ensure transparency and a non-intimidating environment for the voters.
b. We also call on the EC to disclose if the military, GOF and police advance and postal voters will be voting for their own constituency or the constituency in which their bases are located. BERSIH 2.0 had previously recommended that military, GOF and police voters to be allowed to vote for their home constituencies instead of where they serve. This is to avoid padding the electoral rolls of constituencies with such bases.
c. The EC should clarify the criteria and procedures by which military, GOF, police and EC personnel can apply to be postal voters.
d. There are other recommendations made by BERSIH 2.0 relating to postal voting that have yet to be implemented by the EC. The recommendations include allowing all eligible Malaysians living overseas to vote as well as all Malaysians being at least 250km away from their voting constituency on polling day to apply in advance to vote in distance voting centres. EC Chair Aziz Yusof has stated that the EC is still deciding the qualifications for overseas voters. It is not within the purview of the EC to decide the criteria of qualification for overseas voters as the Federal Constitution defines absent voter as any citizen who is registered in the electoral as an absent voter and lives outside of his or her constituency. The EC must immediately allow Malaysians overseas to register as absent voters.
3. Cleaning up of the electoral roll
a. BERSIH 2.0 is disappointed that the EC has again avoided the call for a clean and inclusive electoral rolls with just a decision to cooperate with the Malaysian Institute Of Microelectronic Systems (MIMOS) and a longer period for the display and inspections of uncertified electoral rolls.
b. The EC has completely ignored our call for automatic voter registration, without which at least 3 million eligible voters will still be denied voting right even if elections are held 12 months from now. The EC registered only 800,000 voters last year and the processing of many applications is not complete even after half a year.
c. The EC has completely ignored our call for monthly (instead of quarterly) display and inspection of electoral rolls and immediate approval of all names uncontested.
d. The EC has completely ignored our call to abolish the RM 10 charge per every name contested in electoral roll and the limit of 100 names per complainant, and replace with a RM 10 fine for every name unreasonably challenged and rejected.
e. The EC has completely ignored our call to allow for challenges of the certified electoral rolls by members of the public. This would allow for an on-going cleaning up and remove the power of the EC officials to add, delete or modify names without public scrutiny.
4. Nomination day procedures
a. BERSIH 2.0 welcomes the change to remove withdrawal of candidates upon nomination.
b. However, BERSIH 2.0 opposes the removal of the objection period for nominees and giving full discretionary powers to election officers to decide if a candidate is qualified. We call on the EC to withdraw this move as the objection period is necessary for voters to scrutinise candidates in a transparent way and to act as a check and balance in the nomination procedure.
c. The issue of ensuring sufficient time for printing of ballot papers can be solved by implementing a minimum 21-day campaign period, which is one of BERSIH 2.0’s 8 demands. A longer campaign period also allows sufficient time for facilitation of postal/distance votes.
5. Other BERSIH 2.0 demands
The other demands set forth by BERSIH 2.0 have yet to be implemented by the EC which are:
a. Setting a minimum campaign period of 21 days
b. Free and fair access to media
c. Strengthening public institutions
d. Stopping corruption
e. Stopping dirty politics
January 2012 marks the sixth month since 9 July when 50,000 Malaysians took to the streets to demand for electoral reform. During this period, the EC has only committed to fully implementing one of BERSIH 2.0’s 8 demands, namely indelible ink. The demand to reform postal voting has only partially been implemented while the other six demands remain unaddressed.
BERSIH 2.0 calls on the EC to speed up the implementation of all the 8 demands we have set forth before the next General Election. We emphasise again that these 8 demands are crucial in ensuring the bare minimum for a clean and fair elections.
On a final note, BERSIH 2.0 is disappointed that the Peaceful Assembly Bill 2011 was passed in the Senate yesterday despite the contents which amount to violation of the fundamental right to freedom of assembly. Clean, free and fair elections are fantasy when civil liberties are curbed.
We call on any move towards obtaining assent from the Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Mulia and gazetting of the Bill to be halted. The Bill should be withdrawn immediately.
Salam BERSIH 2.0!
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.