Joint Statement by BERSIH 2.0, MyOverseasVote and Global Bersih
1 March 2013
GE13 Result Threatened by Complacent Election Commission
The legitimacy of Malaysia’s next general election will be jeopardised unless the Election Commission provides full details about how overseas voting will be implemented and impartially monitored.
The EC must be compelled to allow election agents, monitors and observers in all Malaysian overseas missions; if the Commission does not make this essential provision, the result of Malaysia’s most critical general election, GE13, may very likely be held hostage by legal challenges lodged by candidates.
All political parties and their candidates must demand that the EC acts urgently on this matter, on behalf of their constituencies and the citizens they wish to represent in Parliament.
The Election Commission will only have itself to blame if an ill-conceived and haphazardly implemented postal vote leads to such court challenges.
The coming 13th general election marks a significant expansion of the postal vote to include hundreds of thousands of citizens who were previously excluded from the process in unconstitutional, discriminatory and arbitrary action by the EC.
Prime Minister Najib Razak may call the election any time now. Yet the EC has neither provided clear information on how polling will be carried out abroad, nor publicly and clearly addressed the issue of election agents, monitors and observers. Glaringly absent in its public statements are the roles of candidates’ election agents, which are provided for in Election Regulations.
In the face of the EC’s inaction on these matters, Global Bersih is now recruiting volunteer election agents, monitors and observers for polling stations abroad and in Malaysia, in a worldwide expansion of BERSIH 2.0’s ‘PEMANTAU’ campaign.
These volunteers must be accredited by the EC to be fully effective, but the commission has not moved to put such an accreditation mechanism in place.
The recruitment program, conducted by e-mail and through social media platforms such as Facebook, made its debut in France and the UK and quickly spread to the US, Australia, Thailand, New Zealand and Japan. Global Bersih will expand the recruitment drive to cover 85 locations across the world.
Volunteers are being recruited among Malaysians who will be returning to vote, as well as citizens who will remain overseas as newly registered postal voters.
Dedicated email addresses in each country will receive details of volunteers, which will then be passed on to the BERSIH 2.0 Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur, and shared with non-governmental organisations such as Tindak Malaysia and MyOverseasVote. The bulk of briefing and training for volunteers will be conducted on a city-by-city basis by representatives of these organisations.
We call on Malaysians overseas and at home to step forward as volunteer election agents, monitors and observers to protect the integrity of the voting process, including the postal vote.
Until last January, the postal vote was restricted to full-time students, public servants, members of the armed forces and their respective spouses living overseas. Hundreds of thousands more may now choose to exercise voting rights from abroad.
We welcome expansion of postal voter categories as a positive first step, and nevertheless note that the EC had acted unconstitutionally until January, and that it stood in contempt of Parliament, which had directed the commission to expand the postal vote several months before.
The EC’s lack of preparedness and an ill-conceived postal vote are spectacular failures that must be urgently addressed by all parties contesting in GE13.
We believe that the best way to safeguard the integrity of the postal vote and to limit potential legal challenges would be to count ballots at overseas polling stations before dispatch to Malaysia. In addition, polling stations everywhere – in Malaysia and abroad – must have accredited observers, monitors and agents who are allowed to scrutinise the entire process, from distribution of ballots to counting.
Malaysians overseas and at home are already volunteering to help monitor the election process. All political parties and the EC must now come to an agreement on how to deploy citizens who are prepared to do their national duty and safeguard the election result.
If the EC does not act urgently and properly, Malaysia faces the real danger that the election result will be challenged as null, void and unconstitutional because of failure to implement the voting process satisfactorily.
The most important general election in Malaysia’s history may thus be held hostage by the very institution that is constitutionally charged with delivering a transparent and legitimate election.
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0)
For more information in Kuala Lumpur, please contact –
BERSIH 2.0 at [email protected]
or MyOverseasVote at [email protected]