PM Najib proposed to form the PSC to bring about electoral reform yesterday-but his claim that the Malaysian election system is still OK, despite being criticised by all academic and neutral observers as unfair, shows that he had not even started to admit the existence of a serious credibility problem! If there is no prblems then what is there to reform? In similar vein Home Minister Hishamuddin claim, one hand that the PSC will look into the issue of foreigners being given voting rights, and on another claim that the issue is a `non-sense’ from the Opposition. Denying the existence of a problems mean that there is no political will to address what everyone else see as big problems in the electoral system!
If there is no sign of any recognition of electoral weakness what could have motivated the announcement of a PSC for electoral reform? Comparing to the last PSC on integrity it is clear that a PSC can be initiated without any political will to bring about any changes. The PSC on intergrity was headed by Sabahan MP Bernard Dompok who gave up his position after the various government department refused to cooperate with his PSC. Similarly with a BN -from top to bottom, denying any problems in the electoral system, despite a huge mobilisation by citizens from across the country, it means that the proposed PSC on electoral reform could end up like the previous PSC on integrity!
So there are more cynical motivations behind the PSC proposal: it could be a Public Relation initiative to show that the government do want to level the playing field, and also to buy time for the BN. It is perfectly possible that the government just announce the proposal and abandon the idea afterwards, perhaps exploiting any objections by the Opposition as an excuse. The 2nd issue of buying time can be more challenging. The BN, again exploting any minor objection by the Opposition, to announce an election halfway through the PSC proceedings!
Then the Opposition and the electorate will be in for a real surprise. If you think this is unlikely just compare this with the other even less likely election date under Mahathir: he announced the election half way through his own budget speech!
And the Budget this year would be on Oct 3rd.
Another clue to the lack of political will: Nazri the de-facto law minister said that the PSC is meant to get ready of a General Elections at the end of the current term of Parliament -which is May 2013. But he said that the government has the prerogative to call the GE anytime earlier-thus being reported as Nazri not guaranteeing that the PSC initiated reforms -if there are any, will benefit the 13th GE. In fact if the 13th GE is called before the PSC is wrapped up it is only academic that the new government, fresh from a renewed mandate, will even continue the PSC process!