The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0) applauds the appointment of Mr. Azhar bin Azizan@Harun as the new Chairman of Election Commission (EC).
We strongly believe his appointment enjoys public confidence in line with Article 114 of the Federal Constitution and he will be able to initiate the much needed reforms in the electoral system.
Azhar bin Azizan is a senior lawyer who has a lot of experience and expertise in dealing with election cases. He fulfils the criteria outlined by Bersih 2.0 on integrity, impartiality and independence with proven knowledge, experience and expertise on electoral system.
We welcome the openness of the new government in listening to the voices and recommendations of civil society in the appointment of the new EC chairman.
This lays a good foundation for the collaboration between the new government and civil society on the reform of the electoral system.
While the appointment process of Azhar bin Azizan has not complied with the manifesto of Pakatan Harapan to go through parliament or the selection processes as proposed by BERSIH 2.0, we also acknowledge that such processes to ensure the permanent independence of the EC would require constitutional amendment.
Such constitutional amendments will need the support of two thirds of the parliamentarians and will take some considerable time, which electoral reform cannot wait in view of three by-elections have come and gone and another pending in Port Dickson.
BERSIH 2.0 therefore calls on the other six commissioners to be replaced immediately for their failure to uphold and defend the principles of clean, free and fair elections in the 14th General Elections. Once the six current commissioners are also replaced, new appointment process of EC commissioners should be put in place to ensure transparency and accountability.
This should include the establishment of an election commission nomination committee, consisting of representatives from the three branches of government, statutory bodies and civil society representative to receive and screen applicants to ensure the best candidates are appointed for the job, as outlined in BERSIH 2.0’s memorandum to the Institutional Reform Committee. (https://www.bersih.org/wp-content/bothuploads/2018/05/Action-Plan-100-Days.pdf)
BERSIH 2.0 urges the new government to table constitutional amendments to the appointment process of EC commissioners in the next parliamentary sitting and calls on all members of parliament from both the ruling and opposition parties to support such constitutional amendments.
It is also crucial for the Pakatan Harapan government to establish a Parliament Select Committee on Elections and Political Parties immediately, which should work with the new EC and ERC, to forge cross-party consensus on the new appointment regime.
BERSIH 2.0 stands ready to extend our cooperation, assistance and support to the new EC chairman.
The BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee