Citizenship and Electoral Reform key to Human Rights Advancement

Media Statement (10 December 2014)


As the international society today consists of nation-states, citizenship is a human right in itself and the effective basis of civil, political, socio-economic and cultural rights. It allows people to participate in public life, determine their public policies and ultimately chart their destiny.

All these, of course, require free and fair elections so that the citizens can truly elect their government leaders and hold them accountable.

On International Human Rights Day today, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) calls on all Malaysians to show that they will not tolerate their citizenship being besmirched by the very authorities mandated to uphold them.

Malaysians must stand firm with the Sabah people. We are referring to the admission by the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Immigrants in Sabah of a politically driven concerted effort over years to provide immigrants, both legal and illegal, with identity cards that were supposed to have been the preserve of citizens.

Malaysians must send a clear message to Putrajaya that they are standing up for the sanctity of their citizenship, which has been seriously eroded by the actions of corrupt immigration and national registration officials acting on orders of unseen masterminds under “Project IC”.

Solidarity is also needed to support the struggle of the indigenous peoples – in Sarawak, Sabah and also in Semenanjung – fighting for their Native Customary Rights to land. Land is the basis of the indigenous peoples’ cultural, social and economic life, which has existed long before the emergence of the nation-state. Denying the indigenous people’s’ birthright to their habitat is renders hollow the Malaysian citizenship to them.

To affirm our human rights, Malaysians must continue to demand real electoral reforms through all means, from polling booths to courts of law, and from streets to squares where their voices can be heard.

The next challenge is the upcoming electoral redelineation exercise, which the Election Commission has had a poor record of and so far insisted on an opaque and unaccountable modus operandi. If Malaysians do not reclaim the process, the Sabah’s illegal enfranchisement of foreigners will not be resolved, the NCR battles of the indigenous peoples will likely be tougher and all Malaysians may have less power to ensure that all levels of governments respect their human rights.


Issued by,


The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0, which comprises –


Chairperson: Maria Chin Abdullah; Deputy Chairperson: Sarajun Hoda Abdul Hassan; Treasurer: Masjaliza Hamzah; national representatives: Prof Madya Dr Abdul Halim bin Yusoff, Farhana binti Abdul Halim, Fadiah Nadwa Fikri and New Sin Yew; vice-chairpersons: Jannie Lasimbang (Sabah), Ahmad b. Awang Ali (Sarawak), Abd Halim b. Wan Ismail (East Peninsula), Thomas Fann (South Peninsula), Simon Lee Ying Wai (Central Peninsula) and Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon (North Peninsula).