Najib, what’s it to be? Free and fair elections after electoral reforms, or Tahrir Square?

Posted on October 6, 2011

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These were the  electoral reforms for which thousands of Malaysians converged on the streets of Kuala Lumpur to send a strong message to Najib’s government : we, the rakyat, are not prepared to have another general election until we have the reforms we have demanded.

You will all recall that between the BERSIH 2.0 event on 19th June to announce the rally of 9th July, and the days after leading up to the rally itself, Najib, his ministers,Ibs and Perkasa, UMNO bloggers and the mainstream media were in complete denial that our 8 demands for electoral reforms had any basis.

The sheer numbers, the determination and the solidarity of the rakyat out there on 9th July, notwithstanding the blockades to prevent thousands getting into the city that day and the brutal treatment meted out by the FRU on those who managed to get into the rally, however, must have sent a chill down Najib’s spine.

On 15th August, Najib announced the intention of the government to form a parliamentary select committee to look into reforms to our electoral system.

“Recently there have been demands for free and fair elections. The government’s response is that we will propose the setting up of a parliamentary select committee soon, which will be made up of members from both BN and opposition…The committee will discuss all electoral reforms that needs to be implemented in order to achieve bipartisan agreement without any suspicion that there is manipulation by the government,” , Malaysiakini reports Najib as saying.

Najib is also reported to have said that he will not form a government unless it is truly elected by the people.

“Don’t think that we do not want a clean process of electing the government, we are committed to the tradition of parliamentary elections,” he is reported to have said.

Two days later, Nazri Aziz brushed aside demands from the opposition that assurances be given that no general election will be called until the requisite electoral reforms are put in place.

“They are a minority and this is the right of the government. They cannot dictate to us,” , Malaysiakini reports Nazri as saying.

Two days later, as reported in Malaysiakini, Najib reiterated what Nazri had said : the next general election can be held anytime and is not bound by the work of the parliamentary select committee on electoral reforms.

Since then, rumours abound that the 13th GE is imminent.

11th November, 2011, cause Najib is fixated with the number 11.

5th November, cause, it seems, that is Rosmah’s preference.

On 3rd October, Parliament passed a motion to establish the parliamentary select committee (PSC) to look into electoral reform.

Malaysiakini reports that Nazri Aziz, who tabled the motion in Parliament, when winding up the debate on the same, said that “PRU-13 (the upcoming 13th general election) will not be the last GE for Malaysia and after that the world ends. If a snap election is called, the PSC’s recommendations can be implemented in the 14th, 15th, 16th and GEs thereafter.”

In other words, even as the committee discusses and discovers serious flaws in our electoral process, we, the rakyat, are expected to acquiesce to UMNO and BN going ahead to hold the 13th GE without those flaws being first put right.

Two days ago, at a press conference in Parliament, my former colleagues in the BERSIH 2.0 steering committee, in no uncertain terms, warned that the government must allow the parliamentary select committee on electoral reform to finish its work before even thinking of calling snap polls.

Malaysiakini reports that Wong Chin Huat warned that voters will retaliate by voting against the ruling BN coalition if Parliament is dissolved before the PSC completes its work.

“I think we will see Bersih 3.0 in whatever form, an even bigger tsunami,” Chin Huat is reported as saying.

Respectfully, an increased vote for the opposition in a snap election before electoral reforms as now demanded are effected will make little difference to the result.

The tainted electoral roll and the much abused postal vote will ensure that BN is returned to Putrajaya, regardless of the increased vote to the opposition.

By setting up the parliamentary select committee, at the very least, it is suggestive that the government finally acknowledges that a significant number of the population are concerned about the integrity of our electoral processes.

Should Najib now move to dissolve parliament before the committee has completed its work and reforms have been implemented, this would be tantamount to a move yet again to defraud the voters at the polls.

Surely, after 9th July, we are not going to take this lying down?