Press Statement from BERSIH 2.0, GBM and ABIM (10 June 2020): A 6-Point Multi-Party Deal to Reconfigure Politics and End Endless Machinations

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0), Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM), and Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM) call for a multi-party deal to reconfigure multiparty competition and end the endless machinations which started from the change in government in GE14 and peaked since 23 February 2020 with the “Sheraton Move”.

Bersih 2.0, GBM and ABIM are gravely concerned with the following developments and scenarios:

  • Political parties and politicians refuse to accept general election outcomes as final for the next five years, resulting in waves of mid-term defections and reverse-defections of elected representatives.
  • In the last four months, crossovers of elected representatives have brought down a federal government and four state governments and with talks of a counter-coup, may continue to bring down more governments mid-term.
  • Fearing crossovers in a no-confidence vote, the current Perikatan Nasional (PN) government has damagingly emasculated the Parliament. It was convened for only one hour in a six-month period and five Covid-19 economic stimulus packages since February 27, totaling RM 316 billion, are not tabled for parliamentary approval.
  • Post-election crossovers and machinations may continue even after a new general election, as the growing fragmentation of political parties and potentially an unprecedented low turnout caused by electorate expansion and voters’ disillusionment may return many MPs with less than 50% of votes, a hung parliament and no party enjoying public trust.
  • Such political instability greatly denies Malaysia the best possible responses to both the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent global recession.
  • The incessant infighting of the political class and its failure to manage the economy and inter-communal relations may ultimately discredit all existing major parties and senior politicians, paving way for the risky rise of populist “outsider politicians”, mass civil unrest, breakdown of law and order and even the suspension of parliamentary government.

Therefore, we appeal to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as the sitting Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is leading an initiative to replace the former and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, to end the political impasse and machinations with a multi-party consensus to reconfigure politics, whoever the Prime Minister is and whichever parties are in power.

The reconfiguration of politics must bring about healthy and professionalised competition between political parties by ensuring fair treatment of all. It must contain the following principles and institutional reforms:

  1. EQUALITY BEFORE LAW – End of both selective prosecution and immunity for politicians, activists,politically-connected businesses and all other persons.. While judicial reform to restore its independence and impartiality must continue, an independent and non-political Public Prosecutor’s Office must be quickly established so that the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) can operate separately with providing legal advice to the government and law-drafting as its main functions.
  2. CONSTRUCTIVE ROLES FOR THE OPPOSITION AND GOVERNMENT BACKBENCHERS– Parliamentary reforms at both federal and state levels to allow opposition lawmakers and government backbenchers to play more constructive and effective roles. The official Opposition’s shadow cabinet will be recognised and accorded with due access to government information so that they may formulate responsible and reasonable alternative policies. Every backbencher from both the government and opposition benches will be appointed to at least one parliamentary committee. A certain number of days will be allocated for non-governmental business including private member’s bills. Agenda setting will be inclusively made involving all parties in the Parliament.
  3. COMPREHENSIVE POLITICAL FINANCE REFORM – Political finance reform to both protect taxpayers’ money and ensure political parties’ financial health. The four measures below should be implemented in 2020 with parameters dictated by the Parliament and respective Assemblies, which may be subject to the study by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Elections and Political Parties (refer to Point 6).

3.1 No parliamentarians or state-assemblypersons can hold any office with renumeration in any federal, state or local government agencies and government-linked companies (GLCs).

3.2 All senior positions in government agencies and GLCs must be filled with persons with suitable and relevant qualifications and competence. Partisan harassment and persecution of employees at all levels are prohibited.

3.3 All parties that win at least 5% of votes in the last federal or state election will qualify for federal allocation on an annual basis for five years. The total allocation for all qualified parties, the formulas to dictate their distribution and the permissible usages of such allocation will be stipulated by law.

3.4 All parliamentarians and state assemblypersons will be in-charge of a fixed and equal amount of constituency funding determined by law by the Parliament and the respective state assemblies to support constituency development project and community activities, with rigorous regulations and effective monitoring mechanism in place.

  1. DETERRING CROSSOVERS OF ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES – Recall elections to be introduced soonest at both federal and state levels. This will allow voters the opportunity to sack sitting elected representatives on betrayal of election mandate or other reasonable grounds. This will protect political parties from crossovers of elected representatives disapproved by voters and simultaneously allow necessary political realignment approved by voters.
  2. REBALANCING THE FEDERAL-STATE-LOCAL DIVISION OF POWER – An RCI on Federal-State Relations and Meaningful Three-tiered Governments. The scope will be based on but not limited to the Malaysian Agreement 1963 so that all 13 states and three federal territories of Malaysia will get to enjoy effective democratic representation and elected government at both state/territory and division/municipality/district levels, free from partisan discrimination by upper-level government(s), and with powers commensurate to their historical positions in the Federation of Malaysia. The composition of the RCI must account for expertise, credibility as well as political and demographic diversity.
  3. REFORM OF ELECTORAL AND REPRESENTATIVE POLITICS – An RCI on Elections and Political Parties to study how healthy multiparty competition may be facilitated. This should cover the electoral system, constituency delimitation, recall election, political finance, intra-party democracy, candidacy selection, voter registration, conduct of election and media access. The composition of the RCI must account for expertise, credibility as well as political and demographic diversity.

We urge the sitting Prime Minister at any point of time to initiate or continue such a multi-party deal to restore democracy and enhance political stability in Malaysia, so that the nation may be best positioned to manage public health, economy and inter-communal relations in this trying year of 2020.

Statement issued by:
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0)
Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM)
Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)