MediaRakyat “Speak Your Mind”: Bersih 3.0, What’s Next?

Host: Patrick Teoh
Guest: Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan
 

 

 

BN attempts to steal GE 13

Last Thursday, the BN government and their cohorts the SPR clearly demonstrated in unequivocal terms their intent to steal GE 13. They presented a bill to amend the Election Offences Act 1954 to further restrict scrutiny of the voting process by representatives of political parties and make the system more amenable to manipulation.

The original changes proposed included the following:

a. removing the right of political parties to set up booths to assist voters establish their names on the electoral roll and saluran numbers identity of voters before going into polling stations ( called “pondok panas” ) [ section (26)(1)(e) ]
b. removing the right of political parties to have representatives observing the process in the SPR booths inside polling stations ( Barung SPR ) where voters check their names and get their saluran numbers etc [section 26A]
c. amending section 14 (1A) so that the SPR would dictate the time of arrival and departure of polling and counting agents of candidates at polling stations. The current law provided for polling and counting agents to arrive at the time decided by the political parties as long as they stayed at the polling stations for at least 2 hours.

The net effect of these changes would have been to greatly reduce the current scrutiny of the voting process.

Pakatan Rakyat MPs put up strenuous objections to the amendments. Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim warned the BN in the closing words of his speech on Thursday morning that these new provisions would be defied by the opposition even if passed by the BN. He said that Pakatan Rakyat would not give up the established rights under the law which aided transparency in the process.

The BN in the afternoon of Thursday then presented fresh amendments to the Bill backing down on (a) and (c) above restoring the status quo. However they used their brute majority in the House to ram through the amendment removing party representatives observing the process in the SPR Barung.

Opposition MPs argued to no avail that the SPR Barung was initiated by the BN by amendments in 2003 to assist voters to get their electoral and saluran numbers and had been implemented in the 2004 and 2008 elections without any issues. The lame justification put forward by the BN and the SPR was that “this causes difficulties to the election workers”. When asked for reports of such “difficulties” none were cited.

Another controversial amendment pushed through was the removal of section 11(1)(c) requiring all printed material during campaign to bear the name of the publisher and printer. Removal of the onerous requirement of naming the printer all the time would have improved the provision as was argued by PR MPs. However removing it all together has opened the door to a dirtier election where all sorts of defamatory or inflammatory material could be put out without anyone taking responsibility for them.

What was apparent was that the BN and SPR were not interested in presenting the necessary amendments to the law to implement KEY recommendations by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform. Nothing had been done for example on key issues such as access to the media and the question of how a caretaker government. Even the regulations to implement “early voting” which was to replace the so-called postal voting system for army personnel, their spouses and police personnel were not presented to Parliament by the last day of the sitting leaving open the question of whether the BN and SPR were going to implement this key change for GE 13.

These legislative moves by the BN and SPR on Thursday made it clear that their real intent was to make the electoral process less transparent and easier to manipulate. It is clear that BERSIH 3.0 is needed even more than before. BERSIH’s demand that the key recommendations of the PSC report must be implemented before GE 13 is central to a free and fair election.

The Election Commission must resign for the legislative fiasco they caused in Parliament on Thursday and for their intransigence in implementing the PSC report and BERSIH demands.

Sivarasa Rasiah
Ahli Parlimen Subang
Majlis Pimpinan Pusat dan Biro Politik Parti Keadilan Rakyat

22hb April 2012

…source
Election Offences Act amendments – BN attempt to steal GE 13
22 April 2012 – bersih.org

 

Shocking polls amendments bulldozed through

The amendments to the Election Offences Act are designed solely for the purpose of making the voting process less transparent, asserts Ambiga Sreenevasen.

On 19 April 2012, many Bills were rushed through Parliament. One of them, which appears to have escaped the attention of the public, was a Bill that sought to amend the Election Offences Act 1954.

The amendments are, to say the least, shocking and have far reaching consequences upon the voting process.

They are designed solely for the purpose of making the voting process less transparent. Needless to say this Bill was passed.

1. Those that publish defamatory, racist and sexist remarks may do so with impunity

2. Election monitoring at EC’s discretion

3. Curbing candidates and their staff from checking on identity of voters

4. Election agent or candidate disallowed at election booths (barong)

These amendments which have been introduced so late and bulldozed through Parliament makes a mockery of our electoral process. More importantly it makes a mockery of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) as it appears that these amendments were hidden from them. What does the PSC have to say about this?

Today, Bersih 2.0 reiterates its call for the Election Commissioners to resign immediately as it has failed to uphold the rakyat’s demand for a clean, fair and democratic electoral system. In fact it is unashamedly doing the opposite.

If anyone had any doubt that Bersih 3.0 is necessary, that doubt is now dispelled with this latest move. These amendments confirm our worst fears that the 13th GE will be the dirtiest yet.

The audacity with which these amendments are proposed and the speed with which they were passed reflects the utter contempt being shown for the rakyat’s call for clean and fair elections.

The EC must resign for allowing such amendments to be proposed.

We urge members of the public to read the amendments for themselves and then to fax the EC at 603-88889117 to express their views and if seen fit to call for their resignation.

Salam Bersih 2.0!

DUDUK BANTAH!

Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan is Co-chairperson of the Steering Committee for the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0)

…more
Shocking polls amendments bulldozed through
21 April 2012 – Aliran

 

Why the Need for Bersih 3.0?

The call to rally has been made. There’s going to be a Bersih 3.0. Those who have been waiting for it are ecstatic.

April 28 is the day, and this time the anti-Lynas group, Himpunan Hijau, will be joining in. It looks like this is going to be more than just about electoral reform. It seems to have gone beyond that. It looks like those who are going to turn up for the rally will be declaring their stand against the Government and its administration of the country.

It’s beginning to seem like a rally to say “no” to Barisan Nasional (BN).

Hardcore anti-BN elements will be there. Those who have been declaring “ABU” (Anything But Umno) will be there. The Opposition will be there. As an ardent supporter of Bersih, I will be there.

But Bersih has mentioned an expected turnout of 500,000, and I wish it hadn’t. That’s a virtually impossible number. Even 100,000 would seem difficult to achieve, although it is planned that the rally will take place simultaneously in cities other than Kuala Lumpur.

The number of people that eventually show up will be crucial. If it is big enough, it will send a clear signal to the Government that the rakyat is not happy with its administration. It may even decide if elections should be called yet.

But if the number falls far short of expectations, it could indicate that Prime Minister Najib Razak’s recent strategy of ‘bribing’ the electorate with cash handouts has indeed worked, and he can call for elections as early as possible. He will probably laugh all the way to the polling booths.

Bersih 3.0 could indeed be a litmus test of voter sentiment.

So, will people turn up? Will the fervor be as strong as it was for Bersih 2.0, which was partly charged by the heavy-handed measures taken by the authorities to scuttle it?

This time, it is unlikely that the authorities will react the same way. They would have learned their lesson after the severe backlash they received over the Bersih 2.0 rally of July 9 last year.

However, this doesn’t mean they may not employ certain measures to discourage people from attending Bersih 3.0. Already, de facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz has said that Dataran Merdeka, which Bersih has chosen as its protest venue, is not a lawful assembly point.

It’s not likely, though, that this will be of great concern, although it may create a bit of tension because the rally organizers would then have to be called to meet the police to thrash out certain conditions, as has happened in the last few big gatherings since the passing of the Peaceful Assembly Act.

Of greater concern – particularly to me – is whether the middle ground, who form a major part of the rakyat and who are not as gung-ho as the hardcore about going to rallies, will be charged up enough by the new demands of Bersih to take to the streets.

The three new demands are for the resignation of the current Election Commission members; the clean-up of the electoral rolls; and the invitation of international observers to monitor the general election.

To me, the most compelling is the one calling for the electoral rolls to be thoroughly purged of irregularities. The parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reform has recommended that another such committee be set up to oversee the clean-up, but Bersih has called for an independent audit. That certainly makes good sense.


…more
Why the Need for Bersih 3.0?
by Kee Thuan Chye
6 April 2012 11:13 – Malaysian Digest

 

Bersih 3.0: Rain or shine – I’m going to walk this time!

I am very excited to hear that we are going to have another Bersih rally at the end of this month. As expected, the Election Commission has turned down our demands to implement some electoral reforms before the next general election, which will be Malaysia’s 13th and is due soon.

We have given EC more than enough time – 9 months to be exact and most of the reforms asked for by Bersih 2.0, the free and fair polls movement, do not need to go through Parliament for approval.

Good, now we have a valid reason to come out to the streets again and exercise our constitutional rights collectively as matured Malaysian citizens of all creeds and ethnicity. It is good to hold simultaneous rallies in all major towns in the country on the same day, not just in Kuala Lumpur alone. Do it also in Penang, Ipoh, Johor Baru or Kota Kinabalu, just to show our incumbent government that we want electoral reforms. We are serious about electoral reforms!

Malaysians residing overseas will also be pitching in at rallies in their places of reside, just like what they did for Bersih 2.0. Let the voice of Bersih Malaysia or Clean up Malaysia reverberate from New York to Sydney!

Who says not our culture – culture evolves

Our former prime minister said rallies are not part of Malaysian culture. Of course we have proven him wrong a few times and he must be foaming at the mouth right now. Look at the interest and intensity generated by Bersih 1.0, Hindraf, Bersih 2.0 and the recent Himpunan Hijau 2.0.

Thousands and thousands of Malaysians poured onto the streets of Kuala Lumpur and Kuantan despite threats from the police. In the end, the whole world saw what happened during those rallies – thanks to Al Jazeera and CNN. That is the power of modern communications and the Internet!

Many people, especially those from the older generation, still harbor some fear of reprisals. Auntie Bersih changed all that by coming out for Bersih 2.0 on July 9, 2011. She was soaked from head to toe by acid water but she walked on. We also have Pak Samad – an octagenarian- who walked all the way to the King’s palace to hand over Bersih’s memorandum but was turned away.

Don’t be selfish and timid: To save Malaysia is to save ourselves

…more
Bersih 3.0: Rain or shine – I’m going to walk this time!
Written by Frances Yip
4 April 2012 – Malaysia Chronicle

 

 

 


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