Press Statement, 14 February 2013
BERSIH 2.0 Responds to the Election Commission
BERSIH 2.0 is disappointed by recent statements made by the EC deputy chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, who accused BERSIH 2.0 co-chairperson Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan of “poisoning the people with things that are not true” and further alleging that “various quarters” were sowing a “mistrust doctrine.” We view his statements as malicious and irresponsible. At best they serve as a distraction from critical concerns raised by civil society and ordinary Malaysians alike, and the urgent need for reform.
Since its launch in 2010 as a non-partisan, civil society movement, BERSIH 2.0 has consistently pushed for reforms toward clean, free and fair elections. From the 2001 Likas case to the 2012 findings of the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP), and now testimonies before the Sabah Royal Commission of Inquiry, the weight of evidence makes it clear that BERSIH 2.0’s call for reforms is based on fact. BERSIH 2.0 itself has received complaints from the general public, including overseas Malaysians, ranging from electoral irregularities and violence during campaigning to a lack of clarity on postal voting procedures.
In the face of these questions and concerns, demands for the public to put their confidence in the EC are misplaced without corresponding actions to address shortcomings in the electoral system. The threat of voting fraud persists under the current state of the electoral rolls, as highlighted in the problems documented in the MERAP study and testimonies on the alleged complicity of government officials in “Ops Durian Buruk” in Sabah. Under these conditions, the EC could hardly accuse anyone of spreading a “mistrust doctrine” when the public can judge for themselves whether they ought to trust the electoral system.
We remind the EC that Malaysian civil society has offered to help them in cleaning the electoral rolls. BERSIH 2.0 has also recently urged the EC to begin formal discussions with electoral stakeholders such as MyOverseasVote and all political parties to address issues concerning postal voting. Our efforts to bring everyone together to work towards clean and fair elections are in fact the first step towards re-building public trust in the electoral system. Empowering voters with the tools to hold institutions entrusted with safeguarding the system accountable, such as information and election observation, is part of the process.
Rather than making wild allegations about disruptions, the EC should acknowledge that BERSIH 2.0’s electoral reforms will help ensure that upcoming elections are seen as transparent and free from suspicion. Further, it is our view that the lack of clarity on postal voting has arisen because of the last-minute gestures by EC to implement changes to postal voting regulations when these could have been done much earlier.
BERSIH 2.0 reiterates its call for overseas Malaysians to vote by the means available to them. We advise overseas Malaysians to preferably come home to vote if they are able to and urge those who cannot come home to vote by postal vote. Overseas Malaysians should be aware that they need to be registered voters first before they can apply to be postal voters. It is our view that further reforms need to be made to improve the transparency and accountability of the postal voting system, but boycotting postal voting will not reduce the risk of fraud and will only make it easier for phantom voters to affect the result of the general election. Every legitimate vote counts.
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, 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