Our demands are about fair representation of the people’s will; not ‘politicking’

Media Statement (21 January 2014)

Bersih 2.0 is disappointed by YB Nancy Shukri’s dismissal of our recently announced five demands as “too much politicking”.

The minister appears to have failed to appreciate that it is a basic tenet of democracy for there to be disagreements. Disagreeing with the past and present actions of the EC is not “politicking”.

BERSIH 2.0 is not politicising the issue of electoral reform but simply stating the facts of the bias and unjust measures used in the delineation which starkly favours one dominant political party (i.e. UMNO) over others.

BERSIH 2.0 and the people’s worries are legitimate. We have every cause for concern that the upcoming redelineation exercise will not be fair as the EC has a record of unfair or incompetent practices. It is an affront to the democratic will of the people for a body that does not command public confidence to embark on such an important task as this. Hence, our first demand that the present EC lineup must go.

The minister was also reported to have said that, “I think it is unfair for them (Bersih to stop the Election Commission’s redelineation exercise). They should be the ones giving good proposals on the redelineation exercise.” We wish to clarify that Bersih’s action to file a court injunction to stop the redelineation is conditional – i.e. we would only resort to this if the EC increases seats without making the necessary constitutional amendments. In 2003 and 2005, the EC increased the seats without first amending the constitution. This time EC will not get away with such unconstitutional actions.

The minister also failed to understand that our nine-page demand, available on our website, incorporated substantive proposals – i.e. no increase of legislative seats in total, no unconstitutional malapportionment, no gerrymandering, no “teleporting” of voters and the immediate resignation of all EC members as they have failed to perform electoral reform. These proposals are grounded on evidences and facts.

We wish to stress that redelineation, as with our demands, is about fair representation of the people’s will. Yet this has not happened and is not happening, as our data show – hence, our five demands.

As pointed out in our media statement on 16 January, we are concerned when “research groups like MERAP and political parties have pointed to worse tempering of electoral rolls, from the addition of phantom voters, involuntary transfer of voters, to deletion of genuine voters. Constituency redelineation employing the current tempered rolls will only result in the predetermined rigging of the General Election and undermine the legitimacy of the next elected government, causing political instability”. This certainly goes against the grain of democratic governance and justice must be delivered.

If the minister is still unclear of our demands, we welcome a meeting with her along with the prime minister, whom we will be writing soon to explain our proposal and recommendations. We take heart at her remarks reported in the Star on 19 January, about wanting to engage with civil society, which is certainly more befitting of a minister and elected representative whose duty is to serve, engage with and consult the people, including civil society such as us.

We look forward to a meeting soon with her to discuss electoral reform, delineation and the appointment of the new EC members.


Issued by: The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 which comprises: Maria Chin Abdullah, Dr Farouk Musa, Masjaliza Hamzah, New Sin Yew and Farhana Halim.