Native Customary Rights Are Not A Political Tool


Press Statement, 1 May 2013

Native Customary Rights Are Not A Political Tool

BERSIH 2.0’s observation of East Malaysian sources found that candidates had threatened voters with the loss their native customary rights if Barisan Nasional does not acquire a new mandate in the upcoming general election.

On Saturday (27/4/2013), it was reported that caretaker Prime Minister Najib made a statement that voters will lose their dignity and self-worth if they were to vote for Sarawak Workers’ Party candidate, Larry Sng. He exhorted the Iban community to safeguard their dignity and self-respect by voting for Barisan Nasional.

Speeches that can be construed to promote ill-will and hostility continue unabated. Barisan Nasional candidate for Mambong, Datuk Seri Dar James Dawos, made an accusation that voting for Pakatan Rakyat will lead to the abolishment of the indigenous peoples’ special rights. He further said that BN shall be given the mandate to uphold and protect special rights related to immigration and National Customary Land.

In addition, BERSIH 2.0 observed several acts which may constitute as bribery under the Election Offences Act 1954. Caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had indicated that by voting for the Barisan Nasional, the construction cost of about RM5 million for Chung Hwa Primary School No. 2 in Kuching will be resolved easily after the May 5 elections. He reportedly also announced that the people in Saratok will enjoy new water pipes at the cost of RM8.8 million should Barisan Nasional be voted in as the government of the day.

BERSIH 2.0 strongly condemns the belittling of basic rights of East Malaysians and the manipulation of basic necessities, which should rightly be fulfilled regardless of votes and the upcoming general election. This is a responsibility of the government and cannot be qualified by or is conditional upon votes.

Political violence, despite the maximum surveillance and security as claimed by the police, continue to take place. It was reported that two female students were sexually assaulted by Barisan Nasional supporters in Johor during a ground-breaking event launched by the caretaker Prime Minister. We urge the police to immediately investigate this incident and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. It is the responsibility of the police to ensure that all political events shall be free from any sort of violence and harassment.

We call upon all participants of the general election throughout the campaign period to adhere to the highest standard of ethical conduct. Political violence and breaches of the code of conduct must not mar the final days of the election campaign.

BERSIH 2.0 continues to affirm its commitment to clean and fair elections and we urge voters to come out and vote on polling day. We call on them to reject dirty politics and political violence.

Thank you.

Special Committee on Code of Conduct

On behalf of the Steering Committee of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0)

The Special Committee comprises:

Irene Fernandez (co-chair), Zaid Kamaruddin (co-chair), Yap Swee Seng, Jerald Joseph, Liza Bong, Anne Lasimbang, and Dr Farouk Musa.

Incidents Observed Since 27 April 2013

Political Violence
27 April – It was reported that a four wheel drive vehicle with DAP flags was seen to be making loud noises when caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak was meeting the people at Kampung Dato Road.
28 April – Three Barisan Nasional district election centres in Kg. Manggol, Kg. Gelam, and Kg. Machang were reported to have been torched over the past four days.
29 April – Two students from Southern University College were reported to be sexually molested by several BN supporters on stage during caretaker Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s ground-breaking ceremony for the institution’s new campus.
29 April – A petrol bomb was thrown into a Barisan Nasional’s operation center in Jenjarum causing a small fire at the corner of the house. Nobody was injured.
29 April – It was reported that caretaker Deputy Chief Minister of Penang and Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s candidate for Bayan Baru, Dr. Mansor Othman received a Short Message Service (SMS) death threat on April 22.
30 April – It was reported that a politician was hit by a group of men in Bidor, Perak. The identity of the politician was not stated in the media report.
Code of Conduct
27 April – It was reported that caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak has said that the cost of RM5 million which Chung Hua Primary School No.2 still lacks for the construction of their new block can be renegotiated after the May 5 election. This occurred during the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the new block of the school.
27 April – Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak made announcement during a visit of caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to the area that RM500 will be given to 5931 families to repair their long houses.
28 April– Caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has promised to build a new hospital and improve the roads in the Lubok Antu constituency should BN return to power after the May 5 election. He also added that he has directed and given approval for the timber companies to improve the roads in rural Sarawak as part of the ‘I promise’ (aku janji) manifesto.
28 April – Caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that water pipes in Saratok will be replaced with new ones with an estimated cost of RM8.8 million should BN return to power.
29 April – Caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that 1000 unit affordable housing will be built in Tanjung Piai when he visited the area to support the Barisan Nasional’s eletion campaign.
30 April – In Kupang, Kedah, caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that a new specialist hospital will be built in the Sik district. He also added that a new mosque will be built in Baling.

30 April – Caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the government has approved Foon Yew high school to establish another branch for its campuses.

For a previous list of violations, please refer to our previous statements on the BERSIH 2.0 website.