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Bersih 3.0 rally: The last push for democracy – Kim Quek

April 24, 2012

APRIL 24 – Parliament has dealt a devastating blow to the electoral reform movement that has heightened pre-election tension by several notches.

A last minute amendment to an election law in a jammed parliamentary session that ended at the ungodly hour of 3:21 AM on April 20 has practically stripped opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat its last defence against much anticipated rampant frauds on polling day.

Chief among the regressive and obnoxious amendments to the Election Offence Act 1954 is the removal of the right of a candidate and his representatives to be present to observe the registration of voters in the polling station on polling day {by deleting Section 26A(1)&(2)}.  Without the chance to look at the IC of voters, how can a candidate spot a phantom voter?  In an electoral roll notorious for its infestation of phantoms, doesn’t this stealthy move by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) tantamount to opening the floodgate for frauds on a scale hitherto unimaginable?

And hasn’t this move also negated the introduction of indelible ink which is the only reform adapted by the Election Commission (EC) and the only fruit of the six months of labour by the Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reform (PSC)?

What is the reason for this amendment?  BN said the presence of a candidate’s staff will “cause difficulties” to the election officers.  Asked for such reports in past elections, BN could give none.

Daylight robbery

Isn’t  this sneaky BN move a brazen attempt to commit daylight robbery?  Isn’t this the clearest evidence that BN’s own self-esteem has descended so low that it has to resort to such shameful and dastardly act?

Another amendment that is in consonance with BN’s unabashed attempt to ‘steal’ the coming election is the removal of the requirement to have all printed materials to bear the name of printer and publisher {by deleting Section 11(1)(c)}. In a country which has seen gutter politics plunged to its lowest with BN cyber troopers and pornographic propagandists virtually enjoying impunity in spreading lies to vilify opposition leaders almost incessantly, such an virtual exemption for printers and publishers to take responsibilities is a blanket license for vilifiers to do what they like. Yes, this applies to both protagonists, but BN gains the upper hand in that it enjoys virtual impunity while its opponent does not.

As further evidence that Prime Minister Najib Razak initiative to institute electoral reform through the setting up of the PSC is an election gimmick with no intention to reform is proven in the fact that in the parliamentary session amending the election law, there was no mention of other PSC recommendations such as fair media coverage which is non-existing, and advance voting in lieu of the totally discredited postal voting. These are two key reform platforms demanded by Bersih 2.0, whose eight demands represent the consensus of all decent minded Malaysians who yearn for the restoration of some measure of democracy, starting with clean and fair election.

Regressive amendments

Instead of meeting these demands, BN has regressed with these amendments by reducing transparency and encouraging dirty campaigning.

BN should realize that at the core of our electoral plaque is an election commission which now enjoys practically zero public confidence and public trust through its increasingly open and daring political partisanship tilted towards BN.

It doesn’t help EC’s credibility when its chief Aziz Yusof made the ridiculous boast that he has the cleanest electoral roll in the world when flying in his face are numerous reports of irregularities and frauds in the electoral roll that emerge incessantly, particularly in recent months, on top of documented research which reveals hundreds of thousands, and now the latest, over 3 millions of dubious voters in an electoral roll of only 12 million.

Ong Kian Ming, the director of Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (Merap), an  independent  research group, revealed in a press conference on April 23, that in addition to the few hundred thousands of dubious voters registered with various irregularities reported by Merap earlier, there are 3.1 million potential non-resident voters which are in breach of Article 119 (1) (b) of the federal constitution which stipulates that only resident voters are qualified to vote.

This 3.1 million figure was arrived at by the National Registration Department (NRD) which carried out an exercise called Projek SPR in 2002 to identify cases of voters in Peninsular Malaysia whose IC addresses differ from their voting constituencies.  Ong’s random survey of these “non-resident voters” indicate that many continue to remain “non-resident”, as EC seems to have made no effort to rectify this huge problem that was carried over from 2002, when EC instituted a new system whereby voters are not allowed to vote in constituencies that do not tally with their IC addresses.

Adding insult to injury is EC chief’s decision not to revamp the electoral upon his hilarious claim of “best electoral roll”.

Bersih 3.0 rally to the rescue

Without a thorough investigation of such a questionable electoral roll, and denied the right to oversee the polling process, and without implementing any  of the demanded reform, what chance is there to prevent the most unfair election in our history from occurring?

It is for this reason that the Bersih 3.0 rally which has become a global event with simultaneous demonstrations by Malaysian Diasporas in more than 40 cities around the world will prove to be crucial in the nation’s struggle to regain its lost democratic heritage and determine the fate of the nation for generations to come.

* Kim Quek reads The Malaysian Insider.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.