Media Statement (12 January 2019) Village/community leadership election the way to end extortion of votes.

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (Bersih 2.0) calls upon Pakatan Harapan, Barisan National and the two Independent candidates to support elections of village and local community leadership heads including Orang Asli community heads (Tok batin), chairperson and members of village committees (JKKK).

The threat made by PKR Senator Bob Manolan underlines on 11 January 2019 exactly the perils when village and community leadership are not elected but appointed – whether by federal or state governments.

If the allowance of RM 900-RM 1200 – according to Senator Bob Manolan — can be used to force tok batin to support the government parties, how can the orang asli count on their leaders to defend their interests?

Denial of elected village leadership is ultimately a form of electoral corruption so that appointees representing government parties get to build support by monopolising government resources and dispensing favours.

Bersih 2.0 calls upon all state governments to hold village elections, covering kampung tradisional, kampung baru, kampung tersusun and indigenous communities.

Bersih 2.0 also stresses that the Federal Government must not revive the unscrupulous practice of appointing its own grassroot leaders to be the “federally-appointed village leadership” in opposition-held states as means of patronage, a demand made by Bersatu vice president Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman in the party’s general assembly in the end of 2018.

To the PH candidate M. Manogaran who stands to gain if the threat made by Senator Bob Manolan was effective, Bersih 2.0 suggests him to categorically pledge his support for village and community leadership elections, if he disagree with the threat made by the Senator.

UMNO Youth has lodged a report against Senator Bob Manolan. We believe the Senator should be investigated under Section 9 (undue influence) of the Election Offences Act, not Section 124b (activities detrimental to Parliamentary democracy) of the Penal Code.

UMNO Youth’s objection to the Senator would however be meaningless and even hypocritical if the UMNO-led Pahang state Government continues to deny voters in Pahang the right to elect their village and community leadership. BN’s candidate Ramli Mohd Nor, the highest-ranking orang Asli officer in the Police force, should also make clear if he supports this minimum state of autonomy for the orang Asli community.

Even if Senator Bob Manolan did not make the statement, the orang asli communities – and other village communities too – may still be subject to partisan pressure as long as they cannot elect their leadership and their leadership’s remuneration is not protected from partisan retaliation. This is the fact that Pakatan Harapan, Barisan Nasional and all other parties must acknowledge.

Released by,
BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee