GE13 People's Tribunal
(source: Malay Mail Online)
Bersih People's Tribunal

Seeking a remedy for a troubled electorate

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — While the authorities continued to dismiss the allegations of electoral fraud during the 13th General Election, it looked like there was nowhere an unhappy voter could go to argue his/her case.

Enter the People’s Tribunal, an initiative by pro-electoral reform group Bersih, which aims to give a voice to those denied the chance through official channels. This would then drive forward the call for free and fair elections.

At least that is what Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar (picture) hopes to achieve.

Gurdial, who teaches law at University of Malaya, is leading a team of lawyers who will present evidence at the tribunal, slated to be held in Kuala Lumpur this September 18-22.

The senior lawyer was also the lead prosecutor at the Kuala Lumpur International War Crimes Tribunal, which ruled after a four-day hearing in November 2011 that both former United States President George W. Bush and British ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair were guilty of crimes against peace and humanity and genocide for their roles in the Iraq War.

Gurdial explained that after the courts shot down nearly every one of the over 35 election petitions filed by both Barisan Nasional and Opposition parties, the public have no other avenue other than to sponsor their own probe into the various allegations.

“The judiciary is not keen to allow the thing to be ventilated because they are dismissing almost every petition filed. So what does the citizenry do if they are really concerned about the political process?

“There is no other recourse except a people’s initiative,” he said.

For the People’s Tribunal, Gurdial and his team of over 30 lawyers will be presenting evidence on various alleged electoral irregularities to a six-member international panel which include former United Nations Special Representative Yash Pal Ghai, former Indonesian Election Commission deputy chairman Ramlan Surbakti and ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) president Kraisak Choonhavan.

The Malaysian members are prominent lawyer Datuk Azzat Kamaludin, University of Malaya associate senior fellow Mavis Puthucheary and Rev Dr Hermen Shastri, the general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM).

This will be the first tribunal of its nature in the country, and Gurdial thinks it could even be the first of its kind in the region.

And to make sure the tribunal can come up to a fair and balanced conclusion, the legal team have also invited any and all who could be affected or mentioned in the evidence to participate.

Seeking a remedy for a troubled electorate
September 7, 2013 – Malay Mail Online


Bersih’s tribunal gets EC tip-offs on likely electoral fraud

From the “thousands of complaints” the Bersih People’s Tribunal has received on electoral fraud so far, the surprise has been several “leads” provided by Election Commission officials.

Why this is surprising is because the EC is also being investigated by the tribunal for its conduct in the 13th General Election, said the tribunal’s legal team chief, Professor Gurdial Singh (pic, 3rd from left).

The “leads” provided by the EC officers have been investigated by lawyers and the findings will be presented when the tribunal sits from September 18 to 22.

Gurdial said the tribunal is also tasked with finding out whether the EC had acted fairly and independently in carrying out their tasks in the polls on May 5.

Gurdial, who is also Professor of Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Malaya and Director of the Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity Law, said the leads were just a few from “several thousand complaints” on election malpractices the tribunal had received since June.

The tribunal was mooted in response to the public outcry and concerns of electoral fraud and irregularities in Malaysia’s 13th general election.

Bersih’s Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan had said that the tribunal may not have any legal standing but will serve as a “moral force” to publicly expose electoral fraud.

“These complaints have come from various sources – observers from political parties, the public and also election petitions from both sides. They have identified themselves by names and contact,” Gurdial told The Malaysian Insider today.

A team of 30 lawyers will collate all the information and investigate then follow-up on the complaints.

“We will use complaints by people who can directly attest to what had happened and not just through hearsay and where possible, with evidence such as photographs or documents.”

Those who lodged complaints and had their reports verified and investigated, Gurdial pointed out, had to sign a statutory declaration, to add credibility to their statements.

“Those who are in the country will be required to come and give testimony during the proceedings,” he added.

He explained that the tribunal has categorised every complaint under several categories of malpractices and it will be presented during the proceedings as such.

“We will look at systemic problems and how pervasive were these problems in the election process,” the professor added.

The categories of malpractices include voter choice, or anything that prevented voters from voting who they wanted by promises, inducement, vote-buying, threats, money politics and the abuse of the media.

Gurdial said the other category of malpractice was whether the election process was carried out properly.

“This is where complaints on the indelible ink, double voting, the integrity of the electoral rolls and the abuse of state machinery will be probed,” he added.

The last category, he disclosed, was the conduct of the institution which carried out the elections – the EC themselves – that is, if they had carried out their task under the Constitution and did they respond in an unbiased and timely manner to complaints.

Bersih’s tribunal gets EC tip-offs on likely electoral fraud
September 07, 2013 – TMI

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