Press Statement: Government must allow free & fair campus elections

Press Statement, 14 September 2012

Government must allow free & fair campus elections

BERSIH 2.0 gives its full support to the courageous student groups who have just been slapped with an unjust and unconstitutional ruling from the authorities for the university campus elections this year. The students have just been informed that the elections, which had been postponed indefinitely since March, would now be held simultaneously throughout the country next week (between 20 – 25 September).
As outlined by the groups in their statement issued today, this sudden announcement of the campus elections is further proof that there seems to be an intent by the government to manipulate these elections. Moreover, the announcement by the authorities is a departure from normal procedure, whereby the universities are given the autonomy to decide on the election dates.
We echo the sentiment of the students who view the authorities as “fearful of the rise of student activism in recent times”. This is also evidenced by the earlier postponement of the campus elections to an “indefinite date after the general elections” even though it had been scheduled for March or April at the latest. Now we see that it has suddenly been brought forward, which is unprecedented and unjustified.
Why does the government appear to be afraid of holding the campus elections in a free and fair manner? BERSIH 2.0 wishes to reiterate the demands of the student groups, which are:

  1. Setting of a specific date for campus elections
  1. Student involvement in the handling ofcampus elections
  1. Presence of observers throughout the campus elections
  1. Transparent voting system
  1. Freedom to campaign
  1. Funding allocation for candidates

We also want to highlight the campaigning period given, which has been drastically reduced from seven days to just three days since 2010. The timeframe is wholly unrealistic given that there are 15,000 students on campus and that the candidates also have to attend lectures and classes during the campaign days.
Thus, BERSIH 2.0 urges the authorities that instead of trying to stifle free campus elections, it should approach the growth of socio-political awareness among its younger Malaysians as a positive sign in its stated aim to reach the status of a fully developed nation by 2020. University students deserve the right to decide who their campus leaders should be and it is the duty of the authorities to facilitate this autonomous process.
BERSIH 2.0 takes note of the intention of the student groups to hold a “Himpunan Merdeka Kampus” on 16 September 2012 at 2pm at Dataran Merdeka. BERSIH 2.0 would like to urge the police and the authorities to respect the fundamental rights of the students to hold a peaceful gathering.

Thank you.
Steering Committee
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0)

The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Co-Chairperson), Datuk A. Samad Said (Co-Chairperson), Ahmad Shukri Abdul Razab, Andrew Ambrose, Andrew Khoo, Anne Lasimbang, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Awang Abdillah, Dr Farouk Musa, Hishamuddin Rais, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Matthew Vincent, Niloh Ason, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh and Zaid Kamaruddin