Posts Tagged ‘Electoral Reforms

13
Jun
14

Umno thinks it has the DIVINE right to rule?

DRUNK BY POWER! Umno thinks it has the DIVINE right to rule, that it OWNS the govt & country

Written by John R Malott

COMMENT In ancient days, kings claimed that they had a divine right to rule, and that they were accountable only to God. They thought that they and the country were one and the same, and that everything and everyone belonged to them.

They could confiscate your lands and wealth, or they could give you property and riches. They could lock you up in the Tower, or make your dreams come true. It was all up to them. King Louis XIV, who ruled France for 72 years, famously said, “L’etat, c’est moi” – I am the country.

And so it is with Umno. Because it has ruled Malaysia continuously since independence in 1957, Umno has come to believe that it, the government, and the nation are all one and the same.

Because it is the self-proclaimed defender of the Malay race – a people whom Umno says are still constantly under threat despite 57 years of protecting their interests – Umno thinks that all Malays should support it.

If a Malay does not, then they risk being denied business and educational opportunities, tried for sedition, or even branded as a “traitor,” as Umno Wanita leader Shahrizat Abdul Jalil brazenly suggested DAP candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud (right) was one last week.

Foreigners who criticise the authoritarian ways of the Malaysian government, such as myself, are labeled “anti-Malaysia.” Some, like Australian senator Nick Xenophon, are denied entry; others, as I discovered during my recent visit to Malaysia, just two weeks after United States President Barack Obama came, are on a “watch list.”

Because Umno has been in control of the government for nearly six decades – reportedly longer than any other political party in the world – it probably is understandable that they have come to think that party and government are one and the same, and that what belongs to the government also belongs to the party.

But in a parliamentary system, the political party or coalition that won a majority of votes is asked to “form” the government. They do not “become” the government. The word “form” has a special definition in this regard: it means “to compose” or “to serve as” the government.

There is a clear recognition, which is lost on most Umno politicians, that the party is only “the government of the day.” The party does not “own” the government, its personnel, or its resources.

Abuses of gov’t resources

The election campaign in Teluk Intan has provided a number of examples of Umno’s confused mind, and how it misuses government resources for the ruling coalition’s political benefit. It is a case study in how Malaysia’s electoral system is tilted against opposition candidates.

Here are just a few examples that I have found in the past few days; I am sure Malaysiakini’s readers will find more in the days ahead.

Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan used a school for a political gathering and said, “I do not see why I cannot hold a ceramah here. I am a BN deputy minister. This is a government school.”

Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi campaigned before an official gathering of government paramilitary members, Rela, and turned it into a political party rally. He said, “I promise that if (the BN candidate) Mah (Siew Keong) wins, I shall immediately buy you new uniforms.”

Zahid also said Teluk Intan would get a constituency allocation from the government of RM1 million, but only if the voters elected Mah. He bluntly informed them, “I don’t have to tell you how much you stand to lose if you choose others.”

In that same Rela gathering, Zahid said chillingly, “In the 13th general election, 2,019 Rela members did not vote. I checked one by one, and I know who did not go out to vote. We must make sure they vote this time around.”

Communications and Multimedia Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said his ministry is prepared to improve broadband facilities in Teluk Intan, but only if it is represented by a BN representative.

Bernama, the government-owned wire service, had an article that sought to label Dyana as an outsider to Teluk Intan. Far from balanced, it had five quotes calling her a carpetbagger, one neutral quote, and no one speaking in her defence.

Separation of party and state

Malaysia is a member of the International Parliamentary Union (IPU), an organisation of 164 parliaments around the world. In 1994, the IPU adopted a Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections.

Among other points, it said that its member states, such as Malaysia, should “ensure the separation of party and state.” This, of course, is something that Umno and the Malaysian government have failed to do for years.

…more
27 May 2014 – Malaysia Chronicle
DRUNK BY POWER! Umno thinks it has the DIVINE right to rule, that it OWNS the govt & country
Written by John R Malott

30
May
14

No electoral reforms and no will to bring change, says Bersih

In our continuing series to mark the anniversary of the most heated general election in recent memory, we speak to electoral reform activists on their struggle for clean and fair elections.

Despite the repeated calls and public cries for electoral reforms following the 13th general election last year, which was marred by allegations of fraud and irregularities, electoral reform activists are convinced not much has changed.

Maria Chin Abdullah, chair of electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0, and her predecessor, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, told The Malaysian Insider that the Election Commission (EC) has not bothered to make any changes to the electoral process, which has come under heavy criticism since last year.

“In terms of our demands, there has been no change at all,” noted Maria.

Ambiga said: “The EC is incapable of improving. Their aim is not to improve or to provide clean and fair elections. Their objective is to keep the ruling party in power.”

The lawyer and former Bar Council chief was critical of the EC, saying it did not have any “genuine intention” to improve or make the changes that the people were asking for.

“We have not achieved anything of great significance,” she added.

Maria agreed, adding that the EC’s present leadership will only act for Barisan Nasional.

“I don’t see it moving in any other direction. Their non-action with regard to the violence, vote-buying and other incidents in GE13 tells us a lot. That was very disappointing,” she added.

“Of course there were reforms that were put in place but they turned out to be a disadvantage because they were implemented dishonestly,” Ambiga said.

She cited the indelible ink fiasco as an example, adding: “Yes, it was something that we wanted but we know how that turned out.”

Maria Chin Abdullah expressed disappointment over the Election Commission’s handling of the general election. – The Malaysian Insider pic, May 4, 2014.Maria said she was perplexed over the usage of the indelible ink, as it worked perfectly during the by-elections after GE13.

“There were so many complaints about the ink during GE13, but after that it worked well. Why couldn’t the EC do their job properly?”

The indelible ink, which was used for the first time in the elections last year, was adopted as a security measure to ensure that voters only voted once and to assure Malaysians that the polls were fair.

The ink was meant to stay on for a few days but voters found out that it could be washed off almost immediately, prompting widespread protest from the opposition and the public.

The Election Commission admitted last November that the indelible ink had its flaws; among others, it was washable and took longer to dry and because of that, it left stains on ballot papers.

However, the commission had insisted that the indelible ink would still be used in the next general election.

“Of course, they introduced overseas voting but that, too, had so many problems,” Ambiga said.

…more
No electoral reforms and no will to bring change, says Bersih
BY ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH
May 04, 2014 – TMI

29
Mar
14

Election 2013 broke every rule in the book

Election 2013 broke every rule in the book, Bersih panel finds

SUBANG JAYA, MARCH 25 — Every single principle governing the running of a free and fair election was breached during last year’s May 5 federal polls, Bersih’s People’s Tribunal concluded in its findings released today.

Panel member former United Nations Special Representative and constitutional law expert Yash Pal Ghai said Election 2013 had fallen short of every aspect of democracy and violated the standard of free and fair elections.

He agreed that the election had been free to some extent because those who were registered voters were not blocked from casting their ballots but said this freedom was more in a “narrow sense” of the word.

During Election 2013, the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) retained federal power with 133 seats to Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) 89 seats despite losing the popular vote contest to the federal opposition, garnering just 49 per cent of the total votes cast.

“We have found ourselves compelled to reach a conclusion that there were multiple failings in the way GE13 was conducted and that virtually every tenet of free election was violated at some place and at some time,” said Yash Pal, who headed the tribunal.

“There were so many breaches of law, disregard of procedures that we have to conclude that elections were not free and fair,” he said, reading out the verdict and recommendation of the five-person panel.

The recommendations, which included proposed amendments to the constitutions on electoral reforms, were concluded after the panel considered sworn statements from 75 witnesses.

Of the 75, 49 appeared personally during public hearings from September 18 to 21 last year.

The panel also proposed reduce the voting eligibility age from 21 to 18 years, and called for equal voting access for Malaysians living abroad.

Yash Pal said the various complaints from individuals who never registered as voters and those who were transferred out of their voting districts, indicate a “deliberate act of fraud”.

“Registering one or two people in the wrong constituency might be carelessness; registering those who have not sought registration is suspicious,” said Yash Pal, adding that it is hard to exonerate the Election Commission (EC) of collusion as identification cards are required upon registration.

Noting the difficulty in ensuring an electoral roll is completely void of discrepancies, another panel member, lawyer Datuk Azzat Kamaluddin, said political parties should establish a specific unit to check the voter registry.

This, he pointed out, is to prevent from a complainant running into legal constraints when it comes to challenging discrepancies in the roll. The Election Act 1958 provides no legal avenue to those who want to challenge a gazetted electoral roll.

On the first-past-the-post electoral system practiced by Malaysia, Yash Pal labelled it questionable as it relies heavily on the fairness of delineated electoral boundaries, which has been repeatedly questioned by federal opposition lawmakers and activists here.

“Individual voters will not be equally represented if they are in constituencies with significantly different number of voters and the actual outcome of overall results can severely be affected by moving boundaries.

“A witness gave evidence that, on average, a vote for BN was worth 1.6 times a vote for PR, because PR-leaning constituencies are on average larger,” he said, adding that it does not reflect “the principle of one person, one vote, one value”.

In order to reduce the glaring ratio, the panel proposed amendments to laws defining the criteria on the size of urban and rural constituencies, crucial to the delimitation process.

The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), a study by University of Sydney and Harvard University, recently showed Malaysia’s electoral demarcations as the worst of 66 countries in terms of fairness and integrity of its electoral boundaries.

…more
Election 2013 broke every rule in the book, Bersih panel finds
By Pathma Subramaniam
March 25, 2014 – Malay Mail Online

09
Mar
14

Bersih to rally objections against EC’s redelineation

The Coalition for Free and Fair elections (Bersih) is preparing to make the Election Commission’s (EC) redelineation exercise more “fair” by mobilising voters to file proper objections.

It pointed out that in the last national exercise to draw up electoral constituencies and parliamentary seats in 2003-2005, more than half of the objections were struck down as they didn’t meet the conditions.

This time, Bersih’s steering committee will launch a roadshow to show the people how easy it is for them to file these objections, akin to filing police reports against a crime.

“We have every intention of really forcing EC to give us a fair re-delineation.

“If we do not do anything, there is not much point in having a general elections. EC had it too easy all this time,” Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah told reporters today at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).

Calling it a “bottom up” approach, the programme will be run by newly-formed Delineation Action and Research Team (Dart), which will pick and educate core teams nationwide.

These teams will then help mobilise more than 100 voters throughout the various constituencies, enough to object delineation exercises where it suspects malapropriation or gerrymandering to take place.

“We will dare say that it would determine the results of GE14,” said Thomas Fann, Dart leader and Bersih’s southern peninsula region vice-chairperson.

“We are empowering citizens to have a say on how boundaries are drawn.”

By law, voters have 30 days to object once new constituencies map is revealed by the EC, before it goes to Parliament for stamp of approval.

However, Fann claimed that in the past, the redelineation exercise, carried out every eight years, have been a mere political exercise between the EC and a BN-controlled Parliament.

He said through the Dart roadshows starting March 9, Bersih would be able to rally the people to do something to block lopsided or unfair constituency mapping.


…more
Feb 17, 2014 – Malaysiakini
Bersih to rally objections against EC’s redelineation

08
Mar
14

How many Malaysians does it take to change the future of elections?

All of 100,000 Malaysians. That is the number that is needed to fight the next major battle for Malaysia’s political future that looms next month.

For at the next parliamentary sitting, the Election Commission (EC) will table a draft of the country’s new electoral boundaries. If passed, it will determine the fate of all future general elections for the next 10 years.

But instead of taking to the streets and getting tear-gassed, the next fight for electoral reform will need 100,000 people to sign their names and stay in the constituencies they vote in, as explained by Tindak Malaysia’s founder PY Wong (pic) over the weekend.

Their signatures, he said, will be used on forms as objectors in Tindak Malaysia’s campaign to get the EC to draw electoral constituencies that accurately reflect the wishes of Malaysians in a general election.

“These 100,000 and our maps are a powerful tool,” said Wong, when met after a weekend forum on electoral reform that his group organised with the Malaysian Bar Council.

Wong explained that Tindak Malaysia set 100,000 as the target as by law, objections in each constituency require 100 voters from that area. Since there are 222 parliamentary seats and 576 state seats, the group needs a minimum of 79,800 Malaysians to come forward.

“But we set it at 100,000 ?or 120 people per constituency just in case people drop out at the last minute.”

If no one challenges the EC next month (and Tindak Malaysia believes it has a unique, never-before-done approach), then Malaysians will just have to be satisfied with this fact – like the last one, the 14th general election will produce a government that does not reflect the people’s collective will.

Free but not fair elections

The reason that the ruling coalition got to form the government even with less than half of all votes cast (47%) has been made pretty clear by Tindak Malaysia and a host of other civil society groups.

As their activists and scholars explained at the forum, it is due to malapportionment – where the Malaysia’s voting population is unequally distributed across all 222 parliamentary seats.

For example, a seat like Putrajaya has about 15,000 voters versus Kapar which has more than 144,000 voters. This effectively devalues a Kapar vote where one vote in Putrajaya is worth nine votes in Kapar.

This is not an exception. It happens between parliamentary and state seats across all states such as Kelantan, Kedah, Selangor and the Federal Territories. It also happens in Sabah and Sarawak.

…more
How many Malaysians does it take to change the future of elections?
BY SHERIDAN MAHAVERA
February 17, 2014 – TMI

05
Mar
14

Our electoral system is flawed and it needs to be fixed

Our electoral system is flawed and it needs to be fixed, says Malaysian Bar president

A government cannot be called democratic simply because its electorate can participate in general elections, Malaysian Bar president Christoper Leong says today.

“The true test of a democracy is in looking at the structure and mechanics that are put in place in the implementation of the electoral system, the election campaign and the election itself, and in not finding that system wanting,” he told a forum on electoral systems.

Leong said the Malaysian electoral system contained flaws and it was incumbent upon the Election Commission to correct the existing flaws, and aim to achieve the best practice of “one person, one vote, one value”, taking into account the variances unique to the Malaysian electoral demographics.

Speaking at a forum titled “Towards a fairer electoral system: 1 person, 1 vote, 1 value”, Leong said the international best practice of “one person, one vote, one value” had not been achieved in Malaysia because of election delineation discrepancies.

He said, however, that malapportionment and gerrymandering was not new, and that it has occurred throughout the nation’s history, even from independence.

“In some instances, it has been justified on the grounds of the unique cultural demographics of our nation, and the fundamental urban and rural divide that continues to exist even after 57 years of independence,” he said.

“But while the general proposition is that the lines should be drawn to reflect the internationally accepted best practice of one person, one vote, one value, this has not been achieved in our country.”

He said constituency delineation had two aspects that could affect electoral outcomes: the distribution of the total electorate among constituencies and the determination of constituency boundaries.

Leong added that the government was plagued by a perspective that its hold on political power was because of the outcome of how constituency boundaries have been drawn, adding that it was not equitable and ignored certain fundamental truths expected of a democratic nation.

He cited last year’s general election, where Barisan National did not get the popular vote, but managed to capture 60% of parliamentary seats.

He said the Constitution (Amendment) Act of 1962 increased the government’s powers of control over the EC by empowering Parliament to determine the terms of office of EC members EC other than their remuneration.

He said the next major change was in 1973 after the 1969 elections, arguably in response to the poor showing in favour of the ruling party.

Here, the provisions of law that limited constituencies to a two to one rural weightage were replaced with a new section that was intentionally vague and did not specify a number or percentage of weightage.

“It is critical to understand that the implication of this provision is that it completely removed the specific constitutional limits to rural weightage,” Leong said, adding that this was the current provision in the Federal Constitution.

He added that what this meant was at its extreme, it would be impossible to attain any version of the notion of one person, one vote, one value.

“It would, therefore, be possible to have instances where, for example, one vote in constituency A, would be worth nine votes or even more, in constituency B,” he added.

…more
Our electoral system is flawed and it needs to be fixed, says Malaysian Bar president
BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
February 15, 2014 – TMI

12
Feb
14

Where’s the Sabah RCI report?

Where’s the RCI report?

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Sabah’s illegal immigrant situation which concluded its hearing in September last year is yet to release its findings.

COMMENT

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahans are eagerly awaiting to hear and read about the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah.

RCI chairman, former judge Steve Shim, had in September 2013 hinted that a report would be ready by end 2013.

But it’s been almost three weeks since the dawn of the new year and still no news.

The RCI report is a much-anticipated item especially in Sabah which is virtually engulfed with problems related to illegal immigrants from Indonesia and Philippines.

Proceedings of the RCI started at the Kota Kinabalu High Court here last January and ended only in September after 211 witnesses took to the stand.

Among them were former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and several former Chief Ministers of Sabah, including Harris Salleh and Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

Shim in September said the six-man commission would go through huge piles of exhibits tendered throughout the proceedings before they finally come up with a report.

“We hope to complete our findings by December,” he had said then.

On June 1, 2012, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, announced that the federal government had agreed to set up the RCI to investigate problems related to illegal immigration in Sabah including the dubious issuance of Malaysian documents to Muslim illegal immigrants under a scheme known as Project IC.

Many of these documented illegal immigrants had made their way into the Malaysian electoral rolls and even got better treatment than bona fide Malaysians, thanks to the political motives of certain groups especially Umno.

…more
Where’s the RCI report?
Luke Rintod
January 21, 2014 – FMT




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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?

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