Malaysia

EC accuses Ambiga, Bersih of partisan agenda

December 19, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 — The Election Commission (EC) questioned today the ability of Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan to ensure all ‘citizen observers’ in her Bersih 2.0 electoral watchdog group obey the law and steer clear of fouling up the polls regulator’s work.

EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar was reported by a Malay news portal as saying Bersih 2.0 was formed along partisan lines and that it was possible the group may have a certain agenda to protect its partisan interests.

He told Sinar Harian Online that while the prominent legal expert who is co-chairman of the electoral reforms group is seen to be familiar with the law, he asked: “But is she capable of taking care of members involved in the Jom Pantau PRU13?”

“Not all know the law, with the election closing in, this campaign launch may cause all sorts of problems to arise,” Wan Ahmad was reported as saying.

The grassroots movement that has been pressuring the government to clean up the election process had earlier this week announced it will be employing thousands more “citizen observers” as their eyes and ears to monitor the election process on polling day.

Wan Ahmad said the EC acknowledged the right of citizens to monitor the election process for any possible fraud that may arise, but said they must not disturb the work of the authorities and EC.

“We want to remind them so that Bersih 2.0 that launched this campaign will not disturb this election’s affairs,” he told the news portal.

Bersih 2.0 has already launched its “Jom Pantau” and “Jom 100” but Ambiga Sreenevasan said on Monday that these campaigns would be expanded next month to keep up the pressure on the authorities.

The lawyer-activist insisted that the polls would not be as clean as Bersih 2.0 wants and the best way to keep the authorities in check is by increasing voter turnout and employing citizens to watch out for any hanky-panky on polling day.

Ambiga said Bersih 2.0’s latest plans were born out of frustration that despite its push over the past few years, the government and the EC’s polls reform efforts have been unsatisfactory.

She rapped the EC for purportedly being “insincere”, pointing out that the agency had only recently decided to set up a special unit to clean up the electoral roll.

Ambiga also complained that the EC had failed to fulfil other key demands of Bersih 2.0, including an undertaking that all contesting parties would be given free and fair access media, international observers would be allowed on polling day and a firm commitment is made to put an end to all forms of political violence before or during campaigning.

Bersih 2.0, a coalition of more than 82 non-governmental organisations, had held its second rally for free and fair elections since 2007 on July 9 last year, earning international recognition when scenes of chaos and violence were plastered across the foreign media.