Bersih charged that Malaysian elections administered by EC under BN’s tutelage has been grossly unfair-and the outlawing of the election reform group seems to be the best confirmation of its charge against BN!
BN has been trying to sidestep Bersih’s charges of unfair elections by pounding on possible negative implications from its mass rallies and to project unproven accusations that Bersih harbour agenda to topple the government either through Jasmine revolution or building momentum for Oppositon. However these charges seems to be prejudicial for various reasons:1. Many mammoth rallies around the world started and ended peacefully-why not in Malaysia? In fact thus far the threat of violence can only be discerned from UMNO youth or Perkasa who threaten to hold their own rallies which their leaders reportedly said they cannot guarantee their peaceful behaviour!
In fact the short term disturbances from a rally cannot be compared to the extended disturbances from a badly elected government who win by unfree and unfair elections. Thus to criticise an election reform rally with a weighty objectives on the ground of some disputable inconveniences to the shopkeepers and cabbies is totally disproportionate! BN is trying to avoid demands for free and fair elections to be voiced by the people by suppressing the people from coming forward to voice their concern-where as a responsive government, it should be helping the people to exercise their citizen’s rights!
Then the concern on the impact of the rally on BN’s chances in the 13th Geenral ELections is simply BN’s own concern. It has no power or authority to impose its concern on Bersih which is only campaigning for free and fair elections. Only if BN need unfair elections to win that they are worried and desperate. By ordering the ROS to outlaw Bersih on the above excuses only shows that BN/UMNO is once again turning its political concerns into a government, public one! In simple words it is BN which politicise the Bersih rally for its own benefits! Such actions should be challenged in court as it amount to gross abuse of Ministerial power!
Indeed the ause of the civil service/government departments for partisan purpose is one of the 8 criticisms Bersih listed against the election administration! The lack of integrity of the civil service allowed much injustice to go unchecked in this country! The suppression against Bersih till now has not seen any balance of action on the other rally organisers : Perkasa and UMNO Youth, even though all such actions are repugnant to human rights and civil liberty!
The proper and descent way to deal with a citizens’ complaint is, as suggested by the King, dialogue with the complainants. Thus far the EC has been made to face the `bullets’ so to speak -but they have been frank to say that in most cases they have no power to act eg abuses of civil servants and government departments in election campaign, unbalanced media access by Opposition parties, vote buying etc. So the ruling politicians who hold the power should not hide behind the EC to run away from their responsibility to answer to the serious charges from the people! Yet they continue to insist that the elections with the above serious flaws are free and fair-even claiming that the Opposition wins thus far are prove that there are no weaknesses in the election administrations. Yet if these complaints have been addressed the situation could have see BN being deposed!
Even the Thai elections where the ruling parties are staring at plummeting popularity from the beginning, did not insist on running unfair elections to give itself undeserved victories. Yet the BN parties which has been in power for over half a century insist on giving itself handicaps which are unchallengeable, to extend its rule! The arrests of the Bersih organisers and supporters shows that the BN leaders are not into conducting free and fair elections. What they have done appear in the eyes of neutral and objective observers as bullying tactics which are inexcusable!
If the BN were to avoid conflict of interests in reforming the election administration it can create a Royal Commission on Electoral Reform where the Commissioners are selected from respectable and renown election experts, academics and civil society leaders to re-design our election system. The 8 demands by Bersih are good starting points to kick start the enquiries by the RCI on ELection Reform!