Ambiga tells EC to remain neutral
KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 - The Election Commission (EC) should stop accusing Bersih of championing the opposition’s agenda if it wants to be seen as neutral, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has said.
The Bersih chairman said the EC “has to be very careful what they say” because, while it could accuse her of many things, the Federal Constitution requires the commission to remain independent.
“Is what they’re saying, does it show that they are independent? And I ask the public to judge that,” she told reporters outside Bukit Aman headquarters here after meeting with the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).
EC deputy chairman Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said yesterday that the upcoming Bersih 2.0 march was an attempt to repeat the vote swing seen in the last general election, which cost Barisan Nasional (BN) its traditional two-thirds majority in Parliament.
He claimed Ambiga was being “used” by Pakatan Rakyat (PR), which wanted to subvert the true aim of Bersih.
“Bersih is not the the Bersih I once knew. It has changed, it became so complicated. It’s not good... I beg Ambiga, separate Bersih from political agendas,” he said.
Wan Ahmad said Bersih came to the EC with a list of 17 demands last November, which was reduced to eight after many meetings with the commission.
He said the EC had promised to look into the eight election reform demands after the Sarawak state elections in April, and questioned Bersih’s sudden urgency over the matter.
“Why in such a rush? Is Bersih’s agenda to fight for democracy of the future or short term goals of the 13th general election? There is no shortcut in this,” he said, adding that voters have been “manipulated” into hating the EC.
Wan Ahmad also repeated his plea to Ambiga to call off the mammoth rally, saying there was still time for discussions with the EC.
PR hopes the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally to demand free and fair elections will generate momentum ahead of snap polls expected within a year.
The first Bersih rally in 2007 saw up to 50,000 people take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur before being dispersed by police armed with tear gas and water cannon.
The demonstration has been partly credited for PR’s record gains in the 2008 general election, which saw the opposition pact swept to power in five states and won 82 parliamentary seats.
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