MEDIA STATEMENT (6 APRIL 2018): ROS Must Maintain Fairness; the Societies Act Must Be Revamped

BERSIH 2.0 condemns most vehemently the actions of the Registrar of Societies (ROS) in dissolving Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) temporarily (for a total period of 30 days), on the brink of the 14th General Elections (GE14). According to ROS Chief Director, Surayati Ibrahim, PPBM would be facing a complete dissolution if they fail to provide full details, information and documents required, as is stated under Section 14(2) of the Societies Act 1966.
The actions of the ROS is clearly politically motivated as this comes two days before the dissolution of parliament, which thereafter a caretaker government will take over the reins and as such will not be able to make such far-reaching decisions.
This is not the first time that ROS has taken such drastic actions towards political parties led by the opposition. Indeed, even non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have repeatedly fallen prey to an unfair and prejudiced system.
Prior to this, Democratic Cation Party (DAP) w as also victimised by the ROS for 5 years. The same tactic was used during the 13th General Elections. The Socialist Party of Malaysia’s (PSM) registration application was denied for 10 years. BERSIH 2.0 would like to stress here that Article 10 of the Federal Constitution guarantees the right of every individual to form associations and this right needs to be upheld by all parties – including the ROS.
ROS needs to stop acting as an apparatus of the ruling coalition and act without fear or favour from any parties. The basic principle of an election is to allow any and all parties to contest on a level playing field. Indeed, the registration and handling of political parties should be placed under the supervision of an independent Election Commission (EC) and not the ROS who falls in the ambit of the Home Ministry.
Once again, BERSIH 2.0 reiterates the importance of institutional reforms and we demand the rules and regulations embodied in the Societies Act 1966 will be reviewed so that all parties, whether political parties or civil society groups, are able to operate without much difficulty and will be freed from the victimisation of the political game by any political party who comes into power.
BERSIH 2.0 calls for the restrictions and temporary dissolution of PPBM to be revoked and that they will be allowed to operate as usual in the lead up to the 14th General Elections.
Issued by:
BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee