On 9th July, last year, thousands of Malaysians at home and abroad came out onto the streets to send a message to the Najib administration.
We want free and fair elections.
Give us our reforms.
On 15th August, last year, Najib responded by announcing the formation of a parliamentary select committee to discuss electoral reforms before the next general election.
“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…Don’t think that we do not want a clean process of electing the government, we are committed to the tradition of parliamentary elections.” , Najib is reported to have said.
6 days later, Najib was reported to have said : “I hope our initiative on the PSC shows our sincerity. It does not mean that we believe there is rigging in the system but we want to make it better. Don’t doubt our sincerity”.
Please note his words.
WE WANT TO MAKE IT BETTER.
Muhyiddin was not to be outdone.
A month later, he was reported to have said : “We want the PSC to be successful in its role. We want all sides to be involved, not only BN components, in the move to strengthen democracy“.
Note his words too.
3rd October, last year, Nazri tabled the motion in parliament to establish the much talked about PSC. This is what Nazri is reported to have said at the time : “The EC is of the opinion that the current system and methods are still relevant and should be maintained. But it does not mean the EC is not prepared to for the paradigm shift and transformation for the improvement in (its) management and operation to ensure that (its) three core functions (are) implemented transparently, with integrity and effectively”.
Note this idiot’s words now.
EC IS PREPARED FOR A PARADIGM SHIFT SO THAT ITS CORE FUNCTIONS ARE IMPLEMENTED TRANSPARENTLY, WITH INTEGRITY AND EFFECTIVELY.
The PSC had several public meetings over 6 months.
And met several times with the Election Commission.
On checking, I found the last reported meeting between the PSC and the EC was on 14th March, 2012. If anyone is aware of any later meetings, please feel free to correct my statement by way of comment.
On 3rd April, 2012, the PSC report, containing 22 recommendations to improve our electoral process, was tabled and, without debate, passed in parliament. The full summary of these recommendations can be view in this FMT report.
I am going to reproduce part of just one of those recommendations for the purposes of this post.
Stricter enforcement of existing laws …
On 4th April, the BERSIH 2.0 steering committee announced that another BERSIH rally would be held on 28th April, 2012.
Then, Ambiga was reported to have said that “apart from the movement’s original eight demands, the upcoming rally would focus on three key issues – the resignation of the Election Commission, the electoral process must be cleaned up before the next general election and international observers should be allowed to monitor the polls”.
Pak Samad added to this : “The fraud continues unabated thus leaving us with the feeling that the government has no ambitions to have free and clean elections. The upcoming election promises to be the dirtiest yet. Bersih (along with 84 other NGOs) will gather peacefully nationwide and also internationally to voice our dissatisfaction over manipulations of the electoral roll in favour of the ruling coalition”.
How has the government responded to this?
With lightning speed and decisive deviousness.
On Thursday night, they bulldozed a series of amendment bills through parliament.
One of those bills amended the Election Offences Act, 1954.
This is Malaysiakini’s summary of those amendments.
At a press conference yesterday, Ambiga is reported to have said :
“These amendments confirm our worst fears that the 13th general election will be the dirtiest yet”.
Does anyone sincerely believe otherwise?
In any of its meetings with the PSC, did the EC ever disclose that these amendments were in the pipeline, and the rationale for the same? If not, why not?
Look at the last amendment summarised by Malaysiakini and then measure it against the words of Nazri.
Let the EC and Najib explain this amendment first.
Why, if before, it was necessary to have the name of the publisher and printer on campaign printed material, this has now been repealed?
How does this make the election system better?
How does it strengthen democracy?
How does it make the implementation of EC’s core functions more transparent?
What, now, of the PSC’s recommendations?
Selena Tay of the FMT, in my view, succinctly sums up that whole exercise.
“It is very obvious now that the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) for electoral reform is just a political gimmick by the BN federal government to deceive the Malaysian public.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s motive in setting up the PSC is to con the rakyat into thinking that he is genuine and sincere in pursuing electoral reforms in line with his much hyped-up Government Transformation Programme (GTP)”.
I had, for some time now, notwithstanding information from within UMNO to the contrary, felt that Najib might delay calling elections until next year.
These amendments leave me now sensing that he will move swiftly.
How will we deal with this, the dirtiest ever general elections, that Najib has in store for us?
This time, next Saturday, we will all be at Dataran Merdeka and several other venues at home and abroad to “voice our dissatisfaction over manipulations of the electoral roll in favour of the ruling coalition” , and then all go home.
As we did on 9th July, last year.
And 11th November, 2007.
Will there be time enough for a BERSIH 4, 5, 6 and 7?
To voice our dissatisfaction?
An 8th, a 9th and a 10th?
Who was it who said that we reap what we sow?