6:18PM Apr 3, 2012 (MKini)
Election reforms pressure group Bersih 2.0 is disappointed that the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reform has failed to address five key issues.
The five issues, Bersih 2.0 said, are:
- Manipulation of the electoral roll;
- The citizenship-for-votes scam in peninsula Malaysia;
- Enforcement of the Election Offences Act 1954 and enhancing the definition of election offences;
- A plan to stop ‘dirty politics’; and
- Inviting international observers.
In view of this, the Bersih 2.0 steering committee said it was “highly likely” that electoral fraud and other irregularities will continue unabated.
“A golden opportunity to right the wrongs and do something good for the benefit of Malaysians now and in the future has, sadly, been missed,” the committee said in a statement this evening.
Bersih 2.0 is the coalition that organised a mass rally on July 9 last year, which in part pressured the Najib administration into establishing the PSC, aimed at making suggestions to improve the electoral process.
Flaws in the electoral roll
The committee said the PSC had failed to suggest a thorough study into the processes of the Election Commission and the National Registration Department to stop manipulation of the electoral roll.
Such areas include, among others, the removal of names and the changing of polling station boundaries.
On the alleged citizenship-for-votes scam in Peninsular Malaysia, the committee said that it was disappointing that only Sabah was mentioned.
“While the problem is acknowledged to exist in Sabah, there is no reference to Peninsular Malaysia, where the issue is also of relevance,” said the committee.
On enforcing election laws, the committee said that should have been a study into the types of offences committed and recommendations on how to prevent them.
“Although there is a suggestion that the EC be given more powers to deal with such issues, the PSC does not seek to identify the problems and the clear infringements of the Election Offences Act 1954,” said the committee.
No international observers
On stopping “dirty politics”, the committee said that while there was a reference to a code of conduct in relations to a caretake government, the code should cover all candidates and political parties.
The committee said that an example of such a code of conduct, from India, was furnished by Bersih 2.0 to the PSC at one of the hearings.
On international observers, the committee said that Malaysia has been officially participated in election observation missions before, such as in Burma and Thailand.
“If we If we subscribe to and endorse the principle of having international observers by our participation in such missions, then Malaysia’s reticence in inviting international observers is wholly inexplicable,” said the committee.
On the 22 recommendations by the PSC, the committee said most of the recommendations involved the EC as the main implementing body.
The committee said that this posed two obvious drawbacks.
Can the EC follow through?
First, it argued, the existing EC has shown itself to be incapable or unwilling to initiate reforms and the question now was whether the commission has sufficient credibility to commit itself to undertaking the proposed recommendations.
Secondly, the committee said, Bersih 2.0, which comprised several legal experts, believes that many of the PSC’s recommendations could be implemented immediately.
“We do not see the need to provide for a lengthy implementation period. We reiterate that Bersih 2.0 has demanded that reforms should be implemented before the 13th General Elections are held,” he said.
Of the 22 recommendations, 18 were without a implementation time-frame.
“We note that while some recommendations do provide for a time-frame to report back, many others do not.
“The lack of a time-line merely prolongs the dissatisfaction and lack of confidence in the electoral system, and adds to the frustration of the people,” said the committee.
Click here to read the EC’s responses to the PSC’s interim report.