Press Statement: 12 August 2011
BERSIH 2.0: SPR Series of Untruths
BERSIH 2.0 is disappointed in the manner in which Elections Commission (EC) Deputy Chairperson Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar continues to take an approach to electoral reform that is excessively confrontational and unproductive.
We have stated repeatedly that BERSIH 2.0’s goal is to achieve a clean and fair electoral system for all Malaysians, not to demonise any institution or promote any political agenda whatsoever.
It is thus distressing that the EC continues to make comments that are less in the spirit of working together towards cleaner elections and more in the spirit of defending an incumbent party against contenders.
The only electoral result BERSIH 2.0 is interested in is a clean one. Should Barisan Nasional or any other party win a clean and fair election, then our goals will have been achieved.
We are of the view that Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad and the EC should thus focus their attention on engaging with civil society to improve public institutions instead of engaging in a war of words with political parties. Recent comments that have been made threaten the public image of impartiality that the EC needs to have to maintain public confidence. It is more the job of the Deputy Chairman of a political party to make political criticisms than it is the Deputy Chairman of the EC.
We had hoped that the EC could instead direct its energies to solving the massive problems facing the electoral roll that have recently been uncovered. “Mismah-gate” has revealed an alarming trend regarding the granting of voting rights to individuals whose citizenship is suspect, as has incidences such as voters named “Kg Baru”, serious irregularities regarding duplicate voters as well as overcrowded addresses, and so on. Surely the EC could focus on fixing these problems promptly instead of being defensive and making these issues political when they in fact affect the integrity of all.
On the issue of biometric verification, we view with grave seriousness recent reports that the police are investigating the tampering of the biometric system used to document migrant workers. This is exactly the type of systematic irregularity and vulnerability that can lead to massive electoral fraud should a biometric system alone be used to protect against phantom voters. We have yet to hear convincing arguments as to why the cheaper, simpler and more effective method of indelible ink should not be adopted.
Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad’s statement that all political parties have equal access to the media also requires scrutiny. Comparing party publications that have extremely limited circulations to national dailies and national broadcast services that are controlled by the ruling party is entirely misleading. Statements that opposition parties “have new media” also completely miss the point. The Malaysia we want is not one where certain parties only have access to certain types of media and not others, but one where all political parties on both sides of the divide have equal access to all types of media, bar none.
Lastly, BERSIH 2.0 completely rejects any comparison of the July 9th peaceful gathering in Kuala Lumpur to the riots in the UK. Despite extremely heavy handed police action, multiple videos and innumerable eyewitness accounts from July 9th all proved beyond any doubt that Malaysians are completely capable of assembling peacefully in accordance with our constitutional rights to together call for a healthier, more democratic nation.
BERSIH 2.0 has always aspired to work with all government institutions and political leaders irrespective of their affiliations, to together build a better Malaysia. We hope that the current low brow, petty bickering will be replaced by a sincere, open minded attitude of patriotic cooperation.
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0)
BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee comprises of:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Chairperson), Andrew Khoo, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Dr Farouk Musa, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh dan Zaid Kamaruddin.