The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) welcomes the Standard Operating Prosedure (SOP) announced by Election Commission (EC) last night, through National Security Council (NSC) telegram channel. The announcement of SOP that was made early will give ample time to candidates and political parties to be more prepared for Johor Polls (PRN Johor).
However, BERSIH would like to bring several issues for EC attention especially on voters right to vote as well some SOPs that can be improve to allow better conduct of democracy but still prioritizing people’s health and well-being.
- COVID-19 and PUI/PUS Voters
In the SOP guidelines by SPR, COVID-19 voters are not allowed to go out and vote. This is a violation of Article 119(1) of the Federal Constitution that give the right to vote. The EC as entrusted body to conduct election process should come out with the best mechanism to facilitate voters exercising their rights instead of preventing them of their responsibility.
Apart from that, voters with PUI/PUS status also still need to apply to District Health Officer (DHO) to go out to vote. Permission to vote or not to vote is not DHO or PDRM jurisdiction as the constitution already give them the rights.
BERSIH urges the EC and Health Ministry to clarify whether the SOP will prohibit COVID-19 dan PUI/PUS voters to cast their vote. If yes, BERSIH urges EC/Health Ministry to allow voters to choose to vote and provide necessary facilities for them to do so.
- Physical Campaigning
BERSIH also welcomes the relaxation of SOP to allow candidates and political parties to campaign physically by organizing ceramah, house to house campaign, distributing pamphlet and using loud speakers to campaign. This is an improvement and it is vital for voters to get sufficient information on candidate or party that they will vote for.
BERSIH however of the view that the ceramah held should not be limited to only operation room and candidate/party office. Operation room or office is very confined and not all have wide and open area. We urges EC to reconsider this SOP to allow organization of physical ceramah to be held on open space such as open field or wide parking lot with strict SOP of wearing face mask, usage of hand sanitizer and organizer must provide chairs to ensure 1 meter physical distancing.
Although we understand the need for application of police permit, we of the view that it is sufficient to only notifiy thet police before organizing ceramah. We suggest that the notice should be given 24 hours before the ceramah is held. Any overlapping notice should be prioritized to who give the notice first.
The SOP for voters in EMCO areas to apply to PDRM so that they can go to the polling station should not be necessary. BERSIH is of the view that it is sufficient to show negative RTK Antigent results and documents such as MySPR to prove that they will vote in PRN Johor. This will reduce burden on the PDRM and they can carry out their duties to assist the EC in enforcing the conduct of elections.
BERSIH would like to urge all voters in Johor to go out and vote in the coming PRN Johor. Voting is the right and responsibility of all citizens to elect a representative who will lead Johor. Votes are the power of the people!
The Steering Committee of BERSIH