After the PM Najib announced the Parliament Select Committee on Electoral Reform the reactions came as fast as the original announcement was made: Bersih want the results to be published and the civil society members involved. Lim Kit Siang welcome the PSC’s formation and dropped a bomb shell that the PSC, not even formed, will meet tomorrow(Wed)!
Update: Nazri refuted reports that the PSC on electoral reform will meet tomorrow.
PAS’ Mat Sabu warned the PSC not to sit too long and use it as an excuse to delay the 13th General Elections! On the other hand there are voices from the PR to let the PSC take its course before the 13th GE come along. Anwar the PR De Facto chief questioned if the PSC was to deflect criticisms against the EC-which contradict with EC’s admission that they really don’t have the power to administer the elections. The EC’s tag line is that they are mere `manager of elections’! So: what is wrong when the politicians behind the EC step forward to handle the election matters now? The most funny reaction was from the EC: `We didn’t know about it! But it must be a good idea coming from the PM!’ (The EC boss had said the `You help me, I help you’ offer in Sibu election must be good coming from the same PM!) Next to this is the Gerakan boss who want the PSC to go round the country to collect opinions-is he looking forward to some travelling opportunities for himself-a minister without portfolio in the PM Dept? The worst response is from DPm Muhyiddin who still persist with the line that there is nothing wrong with the election system despite the PM’s proposal to do a PSC on it! Is he dreaming in another planet?
So before the PSC even get started with membership appointed and its terms of reference identified many parties are counting the chicken already! Actually the responses only shows how Najib caught everyone unprepared. In reality the lobby for electoral reform should not suffer from a lack of self-esteem: because they don’t expect positive response and therefore don’t get prepared well should the government `suddenly’ agreed to something between their original suggestions of 3 EC+civil society task forces on one hand, and Royal Commission of Inquiry, on the other. A Parliament Select Committee sit in the middle, with some advantage of possible speeding of proceedings to achieved some minimum levelling of the playing field eg extend the official campaign period to 21 days, among other things. Our suggestion is: let a nominee each from Opposition and civil society sit in the Election commission to run the 13th GE!
First shocker of Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms
My first reaction yesterday to the announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak of a parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms is to welcome the proposal as it is a vindication of the 709 Bersih rally for free and fair elections – provided it is a genuine and sincere attempt to clean up the various defects and flaws in the electoral system.
However, the first shocker of the PSC on electoral reforms is the report that the Parliamentary Select Committee would have its first meeting tomorrow to discuss “everything that needs to be done” and reach a consensus on the matter.
How can this be when the Parliamentary Select Committee has not yet been formed and the respective Pakatan Rakyat parties have not been consulted and their agreement sought with regard to the PSC’s terms of reference and its membership?
A Parliamentary Select Committee can only be formed by Parliament, which is not in session and will only convene on October 3 for the start of the 2012 budget meeting.
In view of the importance and urgency of the matter, an emergency meeting of Parliament is fully justified. Will the Prime Minister convene an emergency meeting of Parliament to approve the establishment of the Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms?
The Barisan Nasional government should not act unilaterally and arbitrarily in the establishment of the PSC on electoral reforms but must fully consult and secure the agreement of the respective PR parties on important matters like the terms of reference, scope of review, time-frame and membership of the PSC.
Bersih 2.0 should be fully involved in the PSC review and recommendations for electoral reforms.
There should be firm undertaking by the Prime Minister of full co-operation by the Elections Commission and all relevant departments with the Parliamentary Select Committee and that there would be no sabotage or subterfuge of any kind by any government department using “official secrets”, “national security” or other excuses to stone-wall requests for information.
This was what happened to the previous Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity which was formed in the previous Parliament. Although the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawai agreed with its formation, the Select Committee which was chaired by a Minister, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok met hostile reception from government departments when they were asked “sensitive” information, resulting in the resignation of the Chairman and the Select Committee producing no report when Parliament was dissolved in February 2008.
This time, Najib must give categorical assurance that the report and recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms would be completed, made public and implemented by the government and Parliament.
Most important of all, Najib must also give the categorical assurance that the electoral reforms proposed by the Parliamentary Select Committee would implemented in time for the next general elections.
The bona fide and credibility of the proposal for a Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms would be thrown immediately into question if the PSC is formed unilaterally and arbitrarily without full consultation and agreement of the respective PR parties and if the various assurances that it would be a serious exercise are not forthcoming.
Deputy EC chief says caught off-guard by polls reform panel
Bahasa Malaysia Editor
His administration was roundly criticised in the international media, with his reformist image taking a major hit after the authorities took extreme measures including firing tear gas and water cannons at largely peaceful demonstrators.
Polls watchdog Bersih took to the streets in the capital city on July 9 to demand for fair and free elections, defying warnings of police action, which finally resulted in nearly 1,700 arrests, scores injured and one ex-soldier dead.
PR demanded recently for an emergency Parliament sitting to be held to discuss allegations of permanent residence holders being registered as voters and given instant citizenship.
Wan Ahmad said the parliamentary select committee would enable political parties to discuss the necessary steps to improve the current electoral system.
“As we have said earlier, the SPR is a body that runs elections; we have no power to amend laws because laws and Acts are enacted by the Dewan Rakyat. Parliament is a good platform to discuss issues about the electoral system,” he said, using the EC’s Malay acronym.
To run an election, the EC refers to the Federal Constitution, state constitutions, Elections Act 1958, Elections Offences Act 1954, Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1981 and Elections (Postal Voting) Regulations 2003.
Wan Ahmad pointed out that a parliamentary select committee in Australia comprised MPs in proportion to their representation in the House of Representatives, which were government, opposition and independent lawmakers.
BN has 137 members in the Dewan Rakyat, PR has 75 (DAP — 29, PKR — 23, PAS — 23), the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) has one and there are nine independent members.
Asked if there was hope for a thorough reform, Wan Ahmad said it was difficult to answer at this point.
“We do not know yet the terms and references of this committee. So, we need to wait first. Maybe in a few days’ time, we’ll know the mechanism and terms and references, and what needs to be refined… then we will know the results of discussions,” he added.