DPM: We have already fulfilled Bersih’s demands
KUALA LUMPUR, May 17 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin insisted today that the federal government had already bowed to Bersih 2.0's demands but merely failed to adequately explain it to voters.
Explaining, the deputy prime minister pointed out that the 22 recommendations tabled and approved in the Dewan Rakyat last month were far more than the election watchdog's eight requests for electoral reforms.
He added that of the eight demands, the Election Commission (EC) had already agreed to implement seven, including the use of indelible ink in the coming polls.
"The government does not act on emotions. We act using rationale, to explain issues.
"So perhaps there are those who think we have not explained enough and this leads to the assumption that the government has not given them (Bersih 2.0) what they want.
"On that part, we need to improve," he told the Wira Intellectual Discourse Series with the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Alumni Association here.
But Muhyiddin (picture) insisted that the government had done its part through the process of engagement, pointing out that the recommendations were made by the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) for polls reforms which comprised members from both sides of the political divide.
He said it was better to use "engagement" instead of debate when dealing with matters concerning the opposition as the latter group usually had their minds already made up.
"The important thing is that we engage and I think the people know what we have done," he said.
Muhyiddin was replying to an alumni member who had asked his response to the perception that the government does not practice democracy; that it had failed to handle the Bersih 3.0 rally well; and that the media in Malaysia is biased.
"That's not true. It has become part of our commitment since we achieved independence to grant the people their rights (to free speech and assembly)," he said.
But Muhyiddin pointed out that the diversity of Malaysia's racial make-up makes the social fabric fragile and such freedoms must have its limitations within the boundaries of law.
"If we speak of democracy and that just anyone is allowed to issue open statements without giving consideration to the sensitivities of others, then this could cause chaos.
"So although we have democracy, this democracy is limited to constitutional considerations and the laws of the country," he said.
Bersih 2.0, a coalition of some 84 civil society groups, staged its third rally for free and fair elections or "Bersih 3.0" on April 28 after complaining that the PSC had failed to implement meaningful reforms to the country's election system.
The rally had however turned violent and chaotic shortly before 3pm when several protesters breached the barricades surrounding Dataran Merdeka and triggered the police to launch tear gas and water cannons to disperse the group of thousands.