12 January 2008The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) announces its second gathering which will take place on 23 February 2008.
In response to the PM and IGP’s suggestions that BERSIH holds its gatherings in alternative venues such as a stadium, BERSIH has decided it will apply for three venues (Merdeka Stadium, Bukit Jalil Stadium as well as Dataran Merdeka) for its second gathering.
We are mobilizing the rakyat again as our core demands for electoral reform have not been seriously addressed by the Election Commission and the Barisan Nasional. BERSIH will over the next few weeks intensify our efforts to take our message of electoral reform to Malaysian citizens and inform them about the rally on 23 February 2008.
As the Barisan Nasional has tried to portray any public gathering critical of the administration as aggressive or violent events, we are declaring our rally as a “Pesta” and a celebration of our demand for electoral reform and of the real democracy that all freedom-loving Malaysians want. Everyone is welcome to attend the Pesta Rakyat “Jom BERSIH” with their families.
BESIH reiterates that the PM’s and IGP’s statement that a stadium was offered for the 10 November BERSIH rally is not true at all. The question of alternative venues did not crop up in the discussions between BERSIH leaders and the police, prior to the rally.
In mobilizing for the Pesta Rakyat “Jom BERSIH”, we will inform the Rakyat about the following.
Firstly, the electoral roll remains dirty and flawed, in contrast to Tan Sri Rashid’s claim that the electoral roll is now “free of dubious voters”, as published in The Star on 9 January 2008. To take a minor example, many Malaysians have received emails about three voters whose ICs are “991214740101″, “910815750017″ and “981231081137″ suggesting that they are either children or more than 100 years old. BERSIH was told by the EC HQ in Putrajaya on 31 December 2007 that the three were deceased voters and therefore their names would be removed. As at this morning, the names of the three are still on the electoral roll.
More seriously, voters have been transferred in and out of constituencies as and when the EC sees fit, it seems. Apart from that, in two recent cases, voters Sharmila Thuraisingam of Subang Jaya and Eric Liew of Petaling Jaya were registered without their knowledge ( as in the earlier case of prominent blogger Ahiruddin Atan aka “Rocky” ) respectively at the parliamentary seat of Kubang Kerian, Kelantan and state seat of Sekinchang, Selangor. These cases are essentially fraudulent registrations.
Tan Sri Rashid has still not responded specifically to Parti Keadilan’s assertion with specific details how 12 dead Malay voters in the voting district of Jaya Setia came out of the grave and voted in the Ijok by-election in May; as well as how three Chinese voters at the voting district of Pekan Ijok arrived to vote in the afternoon and were told that they had voted in the morning!
Tan Sri Rashid has not satisfactorily explained how as many as 8,643 voters have been transferred en mass into Ipoh Timur currently held by the Parliamentary Opposition Leader. Of that, 3208 are new postal voters, even though there are no new army camps or police stations in the area. Is Tan Sri Rashid so incompetent that he knows nothing about all these examples of electoral fraud? Or, is he shamelessly misleading the Malaysian public by insisting that the roll is clean without explaining any of the above instances?
Electoral rolls are only the most basic requirement of a clean and fair electoral process, something which EC has failed to comply with. BERSIH has spelt out four other basic demands, which has been conveniently ignored by the EC and the Government. Instead, they have been trumpeting loudly about the introduction of transparent ballot boxes, which BERSIH has never requested for and sees the RM16 million spent on 50,000 ballot boxes — RM320 per box — a waste of tax-payers’ money. It would be a world-class joke if EC thinks transparent ballot boxes equates to a transparent election.
Secondly, the implementation of BERSIH’s demand for indelible ink to prevent multiple voting, which EC has verbally agreed to, may not even take place. BERSIH has long demanded a trial run, involving members of the press, the political parties and civil society groups, to address the concern of “removability” of the ink and other technical issues. No response has been forthcoming from the EC.
The EC has also recently insisted that an amendment to the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations must be done for the use of indelible ink. Why did they not do it during the last year’s Parliament session if they were serious about implementating it? After all, the Fatwa Council gave the go-ahead for the issue in August last year. If the EC is serious and sincere about this, it must insist that the Government delays the imminent General Election until after the next session of Parliament.
Thirdly, the EC has not agreed to the abolition of postal votes for the military and police voters. In BERSIH’s 7 August 2007 meeting with the EC Deputy Chairman Dato’ Haji Wan Ahmad and four other Commissioners, we were assured that the police had agreed to allow polling agents to observe the casting of postal votes. At the time, Dato’ Wan Ahmad had added that the Ministry of Defence was not agreeable to the issue of allowing polling agents to observe the polling process.
Furthermore, the EC is also directly responsible for the ‘import’ or ‘export’ postal votes to whichever constituency they see fit, in order to influence the result in marginal seats, as we are now witnessing in Ipoh Timur.
Fourthly, nothing has happened with regard to BERSIH’s demand for free and fair media access. The mainstream media is blatantly used during elections to demonise Opposition leaders and instill fear in the people by the constant replay of footage of riots on state-owned TV stations. How can the elections be free and fair when voters are denied their right to making informed choices?
Fifthly, instead of considering BERSIH’s demand for a campaign period of 21 days minimum, the EC Chairman has threatened to shorten it if the people take to the street to protest against unclean elections.
May we remind the EC that the campaign period of 7 days 13 hours in 2004 is already the shortest possible allowed by law? It is indeed truly ironic then that our colonizers, the British, was able to give us a 42-day campaign period in 1955!