A video of the press conference is here.
Bersih wants heads to roll in EC
Public confidence in the Election Commision is fast eroding because of its inability to curb widespread abuses and violation of election laws.
“It is the personal responsibility of each commissioner to search his conscience and see whether he finds the election practices in this country acceptable.
“If he does not, I’m inviting them to resign. I believe they should resign as a show of protest,” Bersih chairman S Ambiga told a press conference here.
Opposition leaders and polls observers claimed irregularities like bribery and intimidation were widespread at the April 16 Sarawak election.
They claimed the EC had failed to curb them and were partial towards the ruling coalition, often overlooking “blatant abuses and violation” of election laws.
Ambiga said Bersih received overwhelming complaints on the alleged discrepancies but yet the EC has failed to act accordingly.
“We’re getting a lot of information and reports, so we are planning to hold a forum on May 20 where we want to invite the EC and highlight these issues,” she said.
Ambiga, a former Bar Council president, said Bersih will not hesitate to cease all dialogues with the EC as a form of protest should it remain apathetic to the complaints.
Contentious issues pertaining to the EC’s operations, such as the lack of training for returning officers and the denial of Sarawakians living in the peninsula to vote were highlighted.
Tool of the ruling coalition
Bersih steering committee member and political analyst Dr Wong Chin Huat, who was barred entry into Sarawak, highlighted three key issues he felt the “West Malaysian-centric” EC had failed to address.
“The EC refused to grant east Malaysia diaspora the right to vote via postal ballot. Secondly, depsite the geographical spread, especially of Sarawak, the EC insisted on a campaign period of only 10 days.
“Thirdly, Sarawakians were generally not given a chance to make informed decisions. Of the seven commissioners, only two of them were from East Malaysia,” he said.
Ambiga, who was also barred from entering Sarawak during the election period, said public confidence in the EC is fast eroding. The public now perceives the commission to be a political tool of the ruling coalition.
“Under the federal constitution, the appointment of top EC officials is made by the Yang diPertuan Agong and it has to be composed of people with impeccable credentials.
“In other words, you must be courageous, you must be independent, you must be prepared to call a spade a spade, you must be prepared to speak whether it is in relation to the party in power or the opposition,” she said.
EC’s top echelons have vehemently denied any wrongdoing and claimed their conduct was professional and done “by the book”.