Thursday 5 April 2012

The yellow fever returns

The coming Bersih 3.0 rally which will take place in the form of a "sit down" has become the talk of the town with the people eagerly awaiting its arrival.


Nine months after its first rally demanding for free and fair elections, election watchdog Bersih has confirmed another rally on April 28 at the busy Dataran Merdeka. This time, topping its list of demands is the resignation of the Election Commission (EC).

Bersih chairperson S Ambiga said EC has failed in its duties to serve the rakyat and was instead attending to the government of the day.

Ambiga, the former president of the Malaysian Bar, is claiming that while the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms had made several sound recommendations, certain important issues such as election frauds continued to exist and the committee did not probe this in depth.

“It was dealt in a cursory manner. We want an independent audit on the electoral roll. But nothing of that sort was suggested by the PSC. They could have made that suggestion.

“Why did we have a PSC then?” she had asked.

Bersih officials while scrutinising the electoral roll had spotted several cases of irregularities which had yet to be explained by the National Registration Department (NRD) or EC.

These oddities were spotted from the latest voters’ roll as of December last year. Bersih said that it found at least 560 cases where people shared the same old IC numbers in the roll.

Doubts were also raised over cases of phantom voters, where persons of the same name and similar IC numbers voted in different constituencies.

Irregularities were also detected in postal voting where the spouses of army men or police were of the same gender.

EC has meanwhile gone on the defensive saying that it has been cleaning the electoral roll but was not working quick enough to the standards of “some parties”.

Is this excuse from EC believeable? Or is EC back to its old tricks of doing what it always has been, manipulating the electoral roll to ensure victory sides the Barisan Nasional leadership?

It is obvious that EC as Ambiga pointed out is doing the reverse i.e. serving the government instead of the rakyat. Is it then wrong to conclude that EC will never embrace transparency in its line of duty, always succumbing to the interferrence and pressure heaped upon it by the federal government of BN?

Bersih 3.0 talk of the town

For now, the coming rally which will take place in the form of a “sit down” has become the talk of the town with the people eagerly awaiting its arrival. The previous rally had the support of 50,000 people and come April 28, the number of supporters is expected to double.

The reason behind the April 28 rally is understandable but at the same time there is also this nagging worry of it being hijacked by the opposition pact under the Pakatan Rakyat umbrella?

While Ambiga has time and again made it known that she harbours no “political” agenda vis-a-vis Bersih 2.0, it would be in the best interest of the coalition if it took the trouble to clarify queries raised by certain quarters questioning Bersih’s sincerity in organising yet another rally.

Concern had been raised regarding the timeliness adopted by Bersih in announcing the April 28 rally.

Gerakan politician Baljit Singh for one had reservation on why the Bersih 3.0 rally was announced almost immediately after Pakatan leaders had expressed discontent over the 22-point electoral reforms recommended by the PSC.

Lawyer Baljit was left wondering whether the April 28 rally was being hurriedly arranged to marshall and galvanise Pakatan leaders and supporters in view of the soon to be held general election.

Baljit suggested that Bersih “ban” Pakatan top leaders from taking part in Bersih 3.0 as proof that the coalition was an independent and non-partisan movement genuinely seeking to improve the country’s democratic process.

Baljit, who heads the Penang Gerakan legal and human rights bureau, welcomed any clarification by Ambiga to assuage his doubts.

PSC not in rakyat’s interest

On April 3, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia approved the PSC report on electoral reforms without calling for a debate and gave three opposition MPs the marching orders.

The Speaker ordered PKR MPs R Sivarasa and Azmin Ali, and PAS MP Dzulkefly Ahmad to leave the House for questioning his stand on not allowing a minority report to be attached with the existing report.

Is the PSC report of no significance that it could not be debated or is the report riddled with irregularities that exposing it to an open discussion would be disastrous for BN?

As for EC, it had yet to win the rakyat’s trust; it’s excuse that “…it was not working quick enough to the standards of “some parties” is far from convincing.

Nine months after the July 9 “Walk for Democracy” rally, EC has shown no signs of “growing up” and continues to be ordered around by the BN government.

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