MEDIA STATEMENT: (28 May 2014)
BERSIH 2.0 is extremely disturbed by the unabated electoral offences being committed in the hotly contested Teluk Intan by-election. The situation is made worse when the very institution entrusted with safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process is making excuses for the perpetrators instead of taking action against them.
Possibly the worst so far was Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s warning to RELA personnel that he not only knew some 2,000 members did not vote in the 13th General Election (GE13), but he even knew whom they were. With one statement, Zahid has breached multiple election laws and has committed multiple election offences. And with one statement, Zahid has shed some light into the malpractices and fraud perpetrated on the public in GE13.
Zahid’s statement is highly troubling. It is tantamount to an intimidation of voters. Civil servants should be very worried of this admission by Zahid because it means they are deprived of the right to vote the candidate of their choice. Civil servants cannot effectively exercise the right to vote the candidate of their choice when they are being intimidated by the government and when they are being indoctrinated with the falsehood that the party in power and the government are the same. Civil servants cannot effectively exercise the right to vote the candidate of their choice when they are threatened by the government that they must always support the ruling party or they will be labeled an ingrate or worse; or if they fail to do so their livelihood will be at risk, as is happening to Major Zaidi Ahmad of the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
Further, Zahid’s admission that he has verified the names against the Election Commission’s (EC) electoral roll points to a concerted joint effort between his staff and the EC to track RELA personnel. This is more evidence that the EC is not independent, corroborated by the fact that after Zahid got flak for that implied breach of voter secrecy, EC chairperson Abdul Aziz MohdYusof actually rose to his defence, saying it was only an “advice” to encourage them to vote.
This is highly disingenuous of Aziz as Zahid did not just call on RELA personnel to come out to vote, but also urged them to support the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate. Further, this was no mere innocuous campaign as it was preceded by his ominous remarks that he knew which RELA personnel did not vote in GE13 – he is recorded on video as saying that he has their names and IC number: “Saya dah cek satu-satu,” (I have checked each name).
Unless and until there is an independent EC, civil servants’ right to vote the candidate of their choice is merely illusory.
As if intimidation was not enough, Zahid joined the merry band of his party by offering more ‘positive’ inducements. From him, free uniform for RELA personnel if they voted BN; from Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek to Teluk Intan residents, faster Internet connection.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin ‘launched’ a highway to Teluk Intan that was already budgeted for in 2011. Similarly, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Welfare and Women Affairs Shahrizat Abdul Jalil chose a fortuitous time to perform her duty as chair of the National Welfare Foundation by distributing cash and goodies to two poor families there.
Such flagrant violations and abuses of power cannot continue. The monitoring and enforcement authorities, being well under the ruling party’s control, are not heeding the call of the people to do their duty. The greatest culprit of them all, the EC, has so far reduced its role to a mere spectator when such crimes are committed in broad daylight. The EC has a duty under the Federal Constitution to uphold the sanctity and integrity of the elections but they have, as always, been found wanting. When democratic institutions like the EC are no longer independent and refuse to perform their constitutional duties, the people of Malaysia have no prayer.
Only the people have the power to put a stop to all this by rejecting the candidates and political parties that are manipulating and holding them to ransom for the development that they are entitled to as citizens of the country.
Issued by the BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee, which consists of:
Maria Chin Abdullah (Chairperson), Dr Farouk Musa (Deputy Chairperson), Masjaliza Hamzah (Treasurer), Farhana Halim, New Sin Yew, Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah Vice-chair), Ahmad b. Awang Ali (Sarawak Vice-chair), Abd Halim b. Wan Ismail (East Peninsula Vice-chair), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula Vice-chair), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula Vice-chair) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula Vice-chair).