The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) urges Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to promise a transparent, participative and accountable process for the nomination of the Election Commission (EC) member for Sabah, which may be facilitated by the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) on Human Rights, Elections, and Institutional Reforms.
While constitutionally appointed by Yang di-Pertuan Agong, EC chairperson and members are chosen by Prime Minister who nominates them. The vacancy for the Sabah Member occurred in last November while another vacancy occurred in last December.
BERSIH points out that as guardian of the electoral process, the EC is one of the most important constitutional bodies but for most part of time after 1967, it had not demonstrated the expected independence, impartiality and integrity.
One fundamental issue is the appointment of commissioners from amongst retired senior civil servants – and all male until 2018 – who are more accustomed to take orders from politicians than standing up to their pressure. Only in 2018, the EC has had members with election- or law-related qualifications appointed from academia and civil society
PM Anwar Ibrahim should seize the opportunity to show his commitment to enhancing the capability and credibility of the EC by involving the PSSC in the appointment of the Sabah member. The new PSSC is expected to elect its chair and commence work in this Parliamentary sitting (22 May – 15 June).
Doing so will have three major benefits: i) increase transparency in the major appointment process; ii) greater legitimacy and public trust in Election Commission; iii) meaningful role for Parliament to vet major appointments, akin to many developed democracies where their legislative assembly gets to vet, scrutinize and vote on major appointments.
BERSIH congratulates the PSSC for its formation and wishes for a more transparent role into appointment process by bringing Parliamentary oversight on the matter.
BERSIH has conducted research on EC reforms and is ever ready to meet with the PM, PSSC and EC on how the appointment process may be made transparent, participative and accountable to build public trust towards the EC and the election process.
BERSIH also welcomes Dato’ Dr. Lee Bee Phang’s appointment as a member of the EC, after a distinguished career at the Royal Malaysian Police Force (PDRM) and obtained her PhD in the field of ‘Juvenile Crime’ in 2010 from University of Malaya (UM). She filled in the vacancy which occurred in last December.
The Steering Committee of BERSIH