BERSIH 2.0’S NEW YEAR MESSAGE 2019 – Year to Strengthen Multiparty Democracy

The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) urges the people, the Parliament, the state legislatures and the federal and state governments of Malaysia to dedicate the year 2019 to affirming multiparty democracy, without which there may not be political stability, impartiality, accountability, and transparency in governance; and inclusive economic growth.

Bersih 2.0 cautions Malaysians not to assume that the end of UMNO/BN’s single-party rule will automatically usher in democracy.

If we fail to consolidate democracy, it may also pave way to political chaos, rise of populist strongmen and even re-emergence of one-party dominance.

Bersih 2.0 warns that the exodus of 17 UMNO parliamentarians and 18 state assemblypersons within seven months after its electoral defeat is sign that multiparty competition is being undermined by desire for power and patronage.

Bersih 2.0 commends president of PKR, DS Anwar Ibrahim, some PH lawmakers, as well as some UMNO and MCA leaders for voicing their opposition to crossovers. 

To affirm multiparty democracy, Bersih 2.0 calls for the prompt execution of these three reforms:

1.            Setting up of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on elections and political parties to forge cross-party consensus, engage the public in consultation, and facilitate constitutional and legal amendments necessary for any proposed reforms from the Election Commission and Electoral Reform Committee.

2.            Reform in political financing both to provide public funding to all parties and elected representatives based on the same and impartial criteria, and to stop corruption, ‘money politics’, patronage and abuse of government (including statutory bodies and GLCs) resources for partisan and electoral purposes.

3.            Separation of public prosecution from the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) to end selective prosecution and selective impunity, so that so politicians who have committed wrongdoings may harbour hope of escaping judicial punishments by joining the government.

Bersih 2.0 categorically refutes the propaganda that reforms necessitating constitutional amendments (eg, separation of public prosecution from AGC) cannot be done without the government having a two-third majority. If reforms are affirming multiparty competition, why should the opposition object to them?

Bersih 2.0 calls upon Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the chair of the parliamentary caucus on governance and reform to convene all parties in 2019 to discuss on the future of multiparty competition. To this end, Bersih 2.0 will seek meetings with the two leaders as part of our efforts to strengthen multiparty democracy.

Bersih 2.0 wishes all Malaysians a very happy new year and that 2019 may be a year where the shared aspirations that Malaysia will be a harmonious, inclusive and prosperous nation will be consolidated through the emergence of a strong multiparty democracy.

Statement issued by:

The Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0