Friday, 1 July 2011

SPR comes clean, leaving the dirt in "Bersih2"

I think if rational people sit down and listen and read the Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya side of the issue, they will know that the planned illegal rally do not have to happen at all. It would just be a simple matter of Ambiga making an appointment to see meet the YDP Agung and submit the "Bersih2" memorandum. But no, she and her Pakatan Opposition supporters are not interested in meeting the YDP Agung (did any one of them actually applied for and got the yes they can see the YDP Agung?), yes right, they are just out to make as much noise as much trouble and drama on the streets to demonise this Government and this country.

Its a good thing that today the PDRM has said enough, no more negotiations with illegal demonstrators read here, I think the gloves are off, Ambiga and her illegal rally will not happen, peace loving Malaysians have had enough of these so called rallies which are actually Opposition inspired to cause maximum trouble and smear this country's name.

Malay Mail Q&A: Only so much we can do, EC says of Bersih's demands
Friday, July 1st, 2011 11:52:00

"SOME of the eight recommendations by the Bersih 2.0 rally organisers are up for discussion and would be good to implement and some are not within our power to carry out," says Election Commission of Malaysia (EC) deputy chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar.

"We are only an election management body, not a political party and we are answerable to the law and the Ruler."

Wan Ahmad said this during a luncheon talk yesterday organised by the Institute of Mind Development (INMIND).

It is understood that recommendations up for discussion were on cleaning the electoral roll, reforming postal balloting, use of indelible ink, and minimum 21 days campaigning period.

The other four recommendations the EC are apparently unable to carry out were free and fair access to media, strengthening public institutions, stopping dirty politics and stopping corruption.

The upcoming Bersih 2.0 rally on July 9, organised by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, has been touted as an acid test for Malaysian democracy, where the "freedom and right to assembly" as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution has been put under scrutiny.

While the Home Ministry has called it an illegal rally, and the police have warned the public against taking part, Bersih 2.0 chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the rally will go on.

Bersih2.0 is a "sequel" to the Bersih rally on Nov 10, 2007, where a memorandum was sent to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, with the intention of seeking electoral reform in the country.

Here are the highlights of a question-and-answer session during the luncheon talk.

MM: Have the recommendations made by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Bersih to the EC during closed-door discussions been forwarded to the government, and what is the status?

Wan Ahmad: There have been various efforts towards improving the election system. We have revised and re-checked the laws with the help of the Attorney-General's Chambers (AG). A lot of issues were brought up to Parliament with regards to the election management process, but people sometimes tend to forget that. It is true that there are a few things where the Federal Constitution needs to be amended, but the amendment of the constitution must be the last resort as the constitution is our reference point.

Just because we want to fulfill our demands, we should not disregard the efforts made by the people who formulated the constitution over five decades ago, where a lot of pros and cons, cross-checking and checks and balances were done before it was implemented. EC is not looking for temporary measures, we listen to the civil society, responsible bodies, NGOs, political parties and AG before we make any decision, especially with regards to constitutional amendments. EC is not a law-making organisation, we can only make recommendations, but it is up to the government to bring the matter to Parliament for debate.

A lot of changes have been made. Previously, no political party agents could be in military camps during postal voting sessions, but it is allowed now. These changes have been made and explained to political parties and NGOs. We did not close our door to negotiations because these were people who gave their feedback to us. We would continue to meet them for the betterment of the democratic process in our country.

What can be done will be done, but those that cannot be implemented will take some time to allow a study to take place so that we can find a solution that would serve all parties. But we cannot hurry and expect overnight changes, especially if it is made just because of the upcoming 13th general election.

MM: What has hindered the EC from implementing cleaning the electoral roll, reforming postal balloting, use of indelible ink, and minimum 21 days campaigning period?

Wan Ahmad: The voters' registration issue has been done in accordance with the Registration of Electors Regulations 2002 which are bound with the Federal constitution. For example, a registered voter at a certain address will have to request the EC for address change as we cannot simply change their voting place because they are no longer living at the address stated on their MyKad. We cannot do that, as it would lead to power abuse. Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy president Azmin Ali had been telling people there are six "phantom voters" at his house address.

But these six people were registered in the 1990s, and the new law which required voters to register in accordance with MyKad addresses was only implemented in 2002. Prior to the new law, there was no system that regulated people to register at their place, and not to their fancy. That is what happened and we have successfully handled the issue. It is within one's rights to vote at the place they registered, even if they no longer live there. EC is forbidden by law to change the voting place of registered voters unless it is upon request by the voters' themselves.

As said earlier, changes have to be made to postal voting. The police and army have to vote earlier as they have to serve the country during election day. We have allowed the political party agents to monitor poll stations for postal voting, and we cannot simply change this method without considering the rights of the army, police and even full-time students abroad. With regards to indelible ink, it is used among countries which have no identification system, such as Africa and India.

They have not reached our level yet. We only have 12 million voters. Why should we turn our system backwards when we have reached this level of technological advancement? The reason there is a push for the use of indelible ink is due to fear of double-voting, but we have an adequate system to handle voter identification and it is nearly impossible for people to register twice.

We only have one identification number, and one identification card. That is why we are seriously considering the biometric system. Explanations have been given to people concerning the campaign period. We simply cannot compare our country with others that have longer campaigning days. Look at how big the number of voters is in countries such as Indonesia or Thailand.

The situation in our country is different, with various media exposure, mainstream and alternative, and people already know the policy of the government and the political parties. Hence, I do not understand the need for a longer campaigning period.

MM: The Bersih 2.0 organisers said the EC had only made a few changes since the first Bersih rally in 2007. Why can't automatic voting registration be implemented for those who have turned 21 without having to register with the EC?

Wan Ahmad: Automatic registration, for now, is contradictory to the constitution. If it were to be implemented, we would have to amend the constitution first. It is not within EC's power to change it, as it is under the provision 119, where it is stated that one has to request to register as a voter with the EC.

This is done with respect to one's freedom of choice. It is up to an individual to choose to register and become a voter. According to a survey conducted by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), the reason there are 3.2 million unregistered voters is due to laziness. We cannot force them if they do not want to be voters.

MM: Why does EC seem to be "jumpy" with regards to demands made by certain quarters like Bersih? How can NGOs prevent this from happening and deal with EC directly?

Wan Ahmad: To be fair, we have to listen to all parties for feedback. If an NGO seeks to meet EC, we welcome them but an official letter must be made. There is no problem with that on our part.

MM: Instead of a longer campaigning period, why can’t a cooling-off period be implemented?

Wan Ahmad: Indeed we have a cooling-off period. All political parties know that campaigning must stop by midnight before the polling day. We have laws but not everyone will adhere to them. We see how some political talks were played via compact discs until the wee hours in the morning. There wais nothing we can do about those who disregard the law. We cannot simply arrest people during polling day when we have other things to handle as well.

MM: Apart from the army and police, is there a possibility for media practitioners to be allowed postal voting as most of them have to work on polling day too?

Wan Ahmad: We are looking into the matter. This is one area that has been in our discussions too.

Online weed-out of ‘phantom’ voters now available

STARTING today, a new system to weed out dubious voters will be available on the Election Commission's (EC) website at for voters to check their status.

EC deputy chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said the system would allow voters to check the voter list according to their home addresses.

"Heads of households are encouraged to check online and report to us if there are other names within the address."

If there are discrepancies, the EC would be able to make the necessary changes under Rule 25 of the Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002.

On the criticism that foreign observers have been denied access to observe elections here, Wan Ahmad said: "The foreigners' understanding of our constitution and culture is different. The same is applied to us. When I visited a foreign country to observe their electoral process, I was not allowed to question the transparency of the process."

I pray that Ambiga and her supporters will come to their senses and see that what many have seen; that she for all her good intentions has been made a tool by the leaders of PKR, DAP and PAS for their own selfish political objectives.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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