Malaysia: Proposed Electoral Reforms

Bersih 2.0, the landmark demonstration held in July this year which has become a formidable political reform movement in Malaysia, is still pressing the government to implement the suggested 8 electoral reforms before the next general election.

Although the Malaysian government has established a Parliament Select Committee (PSC) to look into the proposed electoral reforms, Bersih still feels that it is not enough:

We reiterate that any move towards electoral reform by the government is insincere and deceitful if the 8 immediate demands by BERSIH 2.0 are not implemented before the 13thGeneral Elections (GE-13). It is the duty of the Election Commission (EC) and the Government to do all they can to ensure that the right of all Malaysian citizens to vote in a clean, free and fair election is protected.

BERSIH 2.0 urges PM Najib Razak to give the people of Malaysia his word that GE-13 will not be held before the recommendations from the PSC are implemented.

The 8 measures demanded by Bersih are:

  1. Cleaning the electoral roll (removing deceased voters, multiple names)
  2. Reform postal ballot
  3. Use of indelible ink to prevent voter fraud
  4. Setting a minimum campaign period of 21 days
  5. Providing all candidates free and fair access to the media
  6. Strengthen public institutions
  7. Stop corruption
  8. Stop dirty politics

Nurul Izzah Anwar, a federal Member of Parliament and vice president of the opposition party led by her father, Anwar Ibrahim, also called for the Prime Minister Najib Razak to implement the reforms before the election:

As Prime Minister, it is morally imperative for you to fulfill the pledges you made during the closing address at the 5thMalaysian Student Leaders Summit on the 31st of July 2011, and I quote:

“I am committed to electoral reform. We will undertake it. For example, there are concerns about phantom voters. We will ensure there is no chance for phantom voters.”

“Do not doubt our commitment to improving the system. We have shortcomings but no one can dispute there is democracy.”

The Rakyat does not deserve to be misled yet again on the long over due need for electoral reform with distractions by way of excuses made for changed venues, heavy-handed crackdown or selectively declaring certain groupings illegal (read BERSIH 2.0).

As a gentle and historical reminder YAB (Yang Amat Berhormat, used as a sign of respect), the rakyat has never truly elected YAB as the Prime Minister of Malaysia. Hence, let this opportunity to enact comprehensive electoral reforms present YAB with the opportunity to definitively receive the rakyat’s mandate to govern.

The implementation of bold electoral reforms will also signal that YAB will no longer be held at ransom by extreme right wing elements that have held back reforms for a better Malaysia.

YAB must also take heart in realizing that embarking on reforms will also ensure YAB regains legitimacy from the Rakyat against other UMNO pretenders to the political throne. These pretenders must not get the better of YAB.

On a suggestion that everyone should wear yellow on Saturdays, kutukurap agrees:

I totally agree with the suggestion to wear yellow on Saturdays as a way to show support for a free and fair election. It’s not disobeying the law but a democratic and harmless way to show the people's stance.

Electoral reform is highly required before GE13 as the rumours on the ground is that UMNO/BN will manipulate the elections like never before to ensure not only they retain Putrajaya but exceed 2/3 majority, therefore we the rakyat must demand for these reforms.

From the Facebook Page CleanBefore13 – Implement the 8 Demands Before GE13

However, there are sceptics to Bersih’s demands, among them a Malaysian living in the United Kingdom who wrote to Another Brick in the Wall [regarding cleaning the electoral roll]:

Based on the CIA World Fact book, death in Malaysia is 4.93 per 1,000 population (based on July 2011). Through extrapolation, for 28 million population, the estimated number of deaths in a year is 138,040 persons. Assuming the information is not updated in JPN over a period of 5 years, on a worst case scenario, the total “un-updated record of deceased persons” is 690,020 people.

According to the EC, we have 11.4 million registered voters. Assuming EC did not update their database due deceased people, this represent 6% inaccuracy of the true/actual registered voters.

Malaysians should ask: can a 6% “inaccuracy/irregularity” (on a worst case scenario) be a strong point to bash the EC or the Government for being unfair? I think this is absurd and politically motivated.

Jebat Must Die, also criticised the opposition’s scepticism regarding the government’s electoral reform promises, specifically where the government proposed the use of biometric voter verification rather than indelible ink:

One of the biggest complaint of indelible ink is that unscrupulous people (they can be from Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat or other good for nothing people) can roam the rural/urban areas and trick unsuspecting voters to use the indelible ink before the election starts thus the voters cannot vote even when they turned up at the election centres. Can we afford this risk?

The biometric on the other hand does not try to replace the IC (Malaysian Identity Card) as the IC is the all important document that can verify a voter.

For instance, can you pass the automated gateway at the airports without your passports by just scanning your fingerprints? Of course you can’t. Same with voting process.

Clearly the Pakatan leaders, being half past six themselves, have not studied the system to make a well informed statement. But then again, I believe they just want to trick people who are unaware of their deceit so that they can continue playing this issue over and over again.

Ahirudin Attan, a popular blogger, agreed:

Bet you didn't know that biometrics in the Malaysian Immigration has now made it impossible for anyone to try and bribe our officers at any entry (or/and) exit point? That's a fact.

You support biometrics, you stop corruption.

A Facebook page has been set up, though it has not garnered a lot of support.

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