Time For All-Party Peace Deal And Implement Reforms For Better Governance, Accountability And Stability

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) reiterates our call to the Unity Government of PM Anwar Ibrahim and the leadership of Perikatan Nasional (PN) to prioritize the interest of the nation after the conclusion of the highly contentious campaigning during the six state elections (6PRN). It is time for both sides to sit down and negotiate a peace deal that not only benefits both parties but more importantly, the Rakyat. On 16 July, we had issued a statement calling the federal government and the opposition to ink an inter-party peace deal after the 6PRN. [1]

The endless politicking that has engulfed the nation these past few years that intensified with each upcoming elections has not only distracted multiple governments from the task of governing but has, in our humble opinion, also dismayed the vast majority of Malaysians who just want to get on with the daily challenges of life. The constant raising up of the 3R issues of race, religion and royalty stir ethnic tensions among the communities that lives side by side each other, threatening the fragile harmony and peace we have enjoyed as a nation.

Built into every democracy are opportunities for the Rakyat to express their choice of government and these are called elections. In Malaysia, our federal and state elections are held every five years with good reasons. It gives time for the coalition or party given the mandate to govern, to prove themselves and win another term, or be removed if they failed to prove themselves. It is the Rakyat who have the right to determine who has the mandate every five years, not politicians who wants to seize power at every opportunity they created themselves.

Rejection of election outcome and constant talk of midterm change of government is disrespecting the collective will of the people in our parliamentary democracy and is utterly irresponsible as it damages overall confidence in the government and democratic system of our country. This has to end, enough is enough. It is time for all parties to focus on nation-building and for all to play our part responsibly as government, opposition, civil society and the Rakyat.

BERSIH calls on the Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to take the lead by fulfilling his promises to combat systemic corruption and to implement institutional reforms that would lay the foundation for better governance, accountability and stability. With a two-third majority in Parliament, he could deliver these much needed legislative reforms without the need for support from the opposition but in keeping with the spirit of his Madani government, we urge him to reach out fully and sincerely to the Perikatan Nasional (PN) leaders out of respect for their important role as opposition and as representatives of those who elected them.

The Inter-Party Peace Deal with the opposition should be wide-ranging and detailed but it should cover these 10 political arrangements and institutional reforms:

(1) A Fixed Term Parliament Act (FTPA) for the 15th Parliament to go full term until 18 December 2027 and for the Election Commission (EC) to pre-announce the default election dates. Request for an early dissolution can only be presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong by Prime Minister in only two conditions: (a) the government having lost its majority; (b) a resolution supporting this passed by a two-third majority in the House of Representatives. Without affecting the royal discretion power to withhold assent to early dissolution, this can bring about greater political stability and predictability to build confidence of the public and the market.

(2) Codification of provisions and processes for Parliament’s confidence mechanism which includes the Confirmatory Vote of Confidence (CVC) after the appointment of a new PM and the Constructive Vote of No-Confidence (CVNC) in the removal of a PM. These confidence mechanisms would evoke confidence and yet ensure stability for small majority or minority governments and preserving the constitutional role of the head of state.

(3) Amendments to the Standing Orders of both Houses to empower private members and guarantee effective parliamentary oversight by setting up more Special and Permanent Select Committees and providing for Non-Governmental Business Time when Parliament sits.

(4) Re-introduction of the Parliamentary Services Act to make Parliament more independent. The Parliament should have its own budget to fund its own staff, research department, select and special committees, and even the service centres of its members. This is one of the unfulfilled reform under the Ismail Sabri-PH MOU..

(5) Recognition of the Opposition’s Shadow Cabinet with adequate allocation to shadow Ministers and commensurate access to information so that they can function effectively as a constructive opposition and government-in-waiting.

(6) An Equitable Constituency Development Funding (CDF) Act to ensure equal treatment for all Members of Parliament regardless of party affiliations. Similar laws should be introduced at the 13 state legislatures.

(7) A Political Financing Act with public funding for political parties to curb money politics and corruption, and to meet the need of parties to fund legitimate operational cost and activities.

(8) Strengthening of the Senate to function as the guardian of state rights with elected members and a one-third veto power for Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan.

(9) Reform of the Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to remove the political control of Prime Minister. An independent office of the Public Prosecutor should be created separately from AG whose main function should be the Government’s legal counsel. The MACC’s Chief should be appointed through a multipartisan parliamentary select committee to ensure its independence and impartiality.

(10) Reform of the Election Commission (EC) so that it would be independent, impartial, empowered and answerable to Parliament in ensuring free, fair and representative elections. Special focus should be placed on improving accessibility to voting for all out-of-state and voters facing mobility challenges like OKU, hospital patients, nursing home residents and prisoners.

The proverbial ball is truly in the Prime Minister’s court and it is for him to earn the mandate the Rakyat has given him and his coalition to govern for the remaining four years and four months of his term. He must initiate these reforms and reach out to the opposition to gain their support for the implementation of these institutional reforms. Without these political and institutional reforms, his government or any governments after him, will remain vulnerable to midterm coups and accusations of abuse of executive powers.

It is our observation that voters on both sides of the political divide wants to see an end to corruption and the PM must not compromise or seen to be compromising on his pledge to fight corruption. The reform to make the MACC and AGC independent, as well as political financing reform, are paramount in this fight. The Rakyat will judge his coalition at the ballot box come GE16.

Statement issued by:
The Steering Committee of BERSIH


[1] https://bersih.org/2023/07/16/ensure-political-stability-ink-an-inter-party-peace-deal-after-state-elections/