The Coalition for a Free and Fair Election (Bersih 2.0) movement will proceed with its march on July 9 despite attempts by the Election Commission (EC) dissuade them from proceeding by offering a dialogue.
Bersih 2.0 chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan said the movement’s representatives have already met the EC with its proposals for electoral reform before but there had been no progress.
“We thank the EC for the invitation but the time for talk and discussion has passed. This is due the reports of blatant abuses in the recent elections in Sarawak and in view of the impending general election.
“The EC’s continued assertions that they have no power to act in the face of such abuses and the information that the suggestions they have made to the government for reform have met with no success gives us little hope in further discussion,” she said.
Ambiga, a former Bar Council chairperson and recipient of the International Women of Courage 2009 award from the United States, said in the public interest, the EC should tell the public about the suggestions which have been made to the government.
“Although we acknowledge that the EC has introduced some reform to postal votes, it is our view this reform do not go far enough,” she said.
She also dismissed EC’s claim that Bersih is not independent.
“More importantly, that comment and the comment about political parties does not reflect well on EC’s independence given that they are constitutionally required to be above partisan politics.
“It should not matter to them where the suggestions for reform comes from. Whether it is from the government, the opposition, NGOs or any citizen. They should deal with all suggestions on their merits,” she said.
‘Several meetings with EC’
Meanwhile fellow Bersih steering committee member and human rights lawyer Haris Ibrahim, also shared similar sentiments with Ambiga.He said the perception put that EC has been made a scapegoat by Ambiga is incorrect as he remembered in her speech that she had reached out to the EC.
“In fact, Bersih have held several meetings with EC prior to this on election reforms including on the eight points raised in our demands. The EC said they will raise the forward the issue to the government.
“We have continuously seen blatant disregard of reforms in the recent Sarawak state elections. Hence, what is the so-called meet that EC is proposing? We had already met,” he said.
Haris said the problem, as Ambiga pointed out, is not with the EC alone but also the government who is claims is not interested to see these reforms.However, he stressed that his comments to Malaysiakini was his personal views and does not represent the whole steering committee.
EC: Street demo can’t solve problems
Today EC chairperson, Bernama reported Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof saying that the commission was prepared to meet Bersih if it calls off the rally and not make the commission a scapegoat.
“We can discuss on that condition, but if they (Bersih) want to hold the illegal street demonstration and meet us just as a rubber stamp or an excuse, it is meaningless.
“To me, a street demonstration will not solve any problem. Amendments to the law will not happen or their demands accepted by staging a street demonstration. No way,” he told reporters at his office in Putrajaya today.
Abdul Aziz was asked to comment on Bersih’s insistence to hold an illegal street demonstration on July 9 despite the strong condemnation by several quarters who are opposed to the idea.
The Bersih 2.0 rally aims to highlight the need for meaningful electoral reform and petition the Agong to step in on the matter.
The eight demands of the coalition are:
•A thorough review of the electoral roll
•Reforms to the postal balloting process
•Marking voters who have cast their ballots with indelible ink
•A minimum 21 day campaign period
•Equitable access to media by participating parties
•Strengthen institutions which enforces election laws
•Eradicating electoral bribery
•Putting a stop to dirty politics.