Bersih 2.0’s point-by-point responses

Apr 3, 2012

Election reforms pressure group Bersih 2.0 is not satisfied with the parliamentary select committee (PSC) final report and have scrutinised all 22 of the latter’s recommendations.

Bersih 2.0, who organised the mass rally on July 9 last year, is one of the main factors attributed the Najib administration’s decision to establish the PSC.

Below is Bersih 2.0’s comments, edited for brevity and clarity, on all 22 recommendations:

1. Voters residing overseas

The proposal to allow voters residing overseas to cast their ballots should be implemented immediately without any conditions. The condition set by the PSC for voters to return periodically to qualify to vote from overseas is unconstitutional.

There is no need for further study on carrying out overseas voting as proposals have been submitted and it will only delay implementation. Provisions exist to allow overseas registration of voters.

Civil society organisations will implement overseas voting on the Election Commission’s behalf if resourced financially.

2. Postal voting for EC staff and journalists

Permissible postal voters living in Malaysia – police/military voters and spouses, EC staff – should be reclassified as advance voters.

They should be extended also to election candidates, polling agents, counting agents, booth observers and candidates’ nominees on the EC enforcement teams.

They should only be allowed to vote in constituencies in which they are registered by the EC and gazetted.

Personnel on duty at polling stations should come from a mix of EC staff and members of civil society and the public residing in that constituency.

Members of the media should not be registered as postal voters.

The integrity of the postal vote system has not been thoroughly examined. This is best for transparency if the categories of advance and/or postal voters be reduced.

3. Distance voting

Distance voting should be implemented once the relevant regulations are amended and there is no need for further study.

“Our second memorandum already contains the draft amendments to the existing regulations.

“(We) have already submitted proposals and logistical solutions to the issue of distance voting, via the second memorandum to the PSC, on 21 March 2012.”

4. Pre-registration of citizens as voters upon reaching 20 years of age

This is unnecessary. Focus should be on automatic registration of voters at the age of 21. The voting age should also be reduced to 18 years.

5. Date of dissolution of Parliament

Provision has to be made for situation where government loses a motion of no confidence. If Parliament can only be dissolved after at least 4 years of office, an unpopular government can retain power.

6. Caretaker government

The concept of a caretaker government is supported, but not within the ambit of the EC.

Political consensus is needed in implementing this to achieve political neutrality during the election campaign period with no new spending commitments and no new projects announced.

There must also be political agreement on its composition.

7. Enforcement of existing regulations in connection with the offence of giving false information in registration matters

All necessary information needed for registration for voting or address changes should be based on information in the MyKad or notification issued by the NRD.

There is greater concern about the existence of false, duplicate identities within the NRD’s database, on which the EC relies.

8. Extending the campaign period

The minimum campaign period should be 21 days instead of 10. The length of time for overseas voters to receive, mark and return ballot papers on time is part of determining the minimum campaign period.

Enough time is needed for election candidates to disseminate their messages and for voters to consider issues.

The supposed higher cost of a prolonged campaign period is false. Most of the labour costs are not dependent on the length of the campaign period, and are incurred on polling day itself.
Other fixed costs would remain unchanged.

Elections are sufficiently important that the cost should not be a primary concern.

The costs incurred by political parties and election candidates should not be considered. For candidates, existing regulations has placed financial limits on campaign-related expenditure.

9. Free and equitable media access

There should be fair, equal coverage of the campaign and parties with no bias. This must be implemented immediately and with a commitment from the relevant government ministry.

“We are pleased that the PSC has made reference to Article 115 (2) of the Federal Constitution and has called upon the EC to exercise their power under these provisions.”

10. Ongoing monitoring of the electoral roll

The postal voter roll and the principal one should be unified to avoid duplicates.

The work by MIMOS in comparing the 12-digit MyKad numbers is too simplistic, resulting in minimal errors identified.

The data testing requires more thorough parameters, for example, to see if there are duplicate old IC numbers. Identical names and high degrees of matching of MyKad numbers should be searched for to eliminate any duplicates.

For the police and military, the MyKad numbers and the military or police IC numbers should be listed to check for duplicates.

Postal addresses should be complete. The EC citing clerical errors to explain discrepancies is unacceptable. Entry checking by two separate personnel should be implemented to eliminate this. Physical verification of new voters’ addresses should have been carried out.

Minor variations in how postal addresses are entered have also led to duplicates. The monitoring of the EC’s duty with the electoral rolls should be done by an independent audit committee.

The PSC has not fully addressed instances of publicly-highlighted fraud. Immediate steps must be taken to address this and the EC should be taken to task. The 13th general election should not proceed with this electoral roll.

11. Inspector of the electorol roll for addresses with multiple voters

Inspection should not only begin for addresses with more than 50 registered voters as it could easily start for addresses with more than 11 voters. A period of 21 days would suffice to complete these investigations.

12. Objections to validated electoral roll

The chief registrar already has adequate discretionary power under Regulation 25 of the Registration of Electors Regulations to cause the registration of suspicious voters to be investigated even after the electoral rolls have been validated. There is no need to study the granting of additional powers.

13. Studying automatic voter registration

There is no reason to delay the implementation of automatic registration of electors upon turning 21 years old. If an amendment to the Constitution is needed, support from all political parties in Parliament should quickly accomplish this.

14. Utilisation of an address other than the address on the identity card to determine a person’s electoral constituency

Instead of adopting the solutions proposed, the PSC is skirting the issue. A voter’s registered constituency must be based on information on the MyKad or notifications from the NRD.

A voter may register with the EC his or her choice of polling station, as long as it is within the same constituency. This may make it easier for a person to vote in large constituencies, without need to return to the polling station nearest the registered address.

15. Streghtening the position of the election commission

Members of the EC must enjoy public confidence and be able to ensure that elections are carried out freely and fairly, ceasing which they must resign.

The EC should not be answerable to Parliament, as proposed by the PSC, as it supervises the election of MPs and state assembly legislator. The EC should manage its own budget, to be audited by the Auditor-General.

A committee of non-politicians should receive nominations for EC membership and make recommendations to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Past and present members of political parties and serving or retired civil servants should be ineligible as for EC membership. The non-involvement of the prime minister in this should be emphasised.

16. Structuring and strengthening of the EC

A detailed study of the human resource capacity and performance of the EC is needed before any recommendation can be accepted.

If the recommendation to separate the three main functions of the EC is accepted (point 18), the EC staff could be reduced instead. Reports of an increase in EC staff from 100,000 to 240,000 people are alarming, as it is a sizeable block of postal voters.

The staffing of the EC should be independent of government with its own funding, staff and salary scheme.

17. Widening the work of the Election Academy

There is no evidence of active voter education programmes by the EC despite the Elections Academy’s existence since 2007. Civil society organisations have actively taken the lead in this.

The government should provide funding for these organisations’ programmes and discontinue the Elections Academy.

18. Separation of the main functions of the EC

Bersih 2.0 concur with the recommendation that the three main functions of the EC be separated and distributed to three separate bodies
The three main functions of the EC is as follows:

A. Conducting elections
B. Registering voters
C. Determining electoral boundaries

19. Distribution of seats in the house of representatives for the states of Sabah and Sarawak

The issue should be deferred until a Royal Commission of Inquiry has completed investigations and delivered findings into the ‘Project IC’ issue in Sabah.

20. Balanced electoral delineation

Each electoral constituency should have approximately the same population size. There is no need for rural weighted scheme used currently. The principle of “one person one vote” should be upheld without exception.

21. State funding for political parties

Election funding to political parties should be provided based on the proportion of the popular vote obtained per party in the previous general election. Political parties should not be allowed to utilise any other funding for an election campaign.

22. New electoral system

Bersih 2.0 agreed that studies should be carried out on alternative electoral systems.

  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 4 April 2012 - 11:06 am

    Sounds good and reasonable but would any incumbent government want to sign their own death warrant when they got a good thing going benefiting themselves?

  2. #2 by cseng on Wednesday, 4 April 2012 - 11:55 am

    I accept fact that all contracts/agreements are loopsided, advantage in anyway it can, to the party that pay the fees.

    If you take these bersih’s responds and demands are fair and sqaure in nature.

    The only conclusion you could draw is BN is kotor and EC is not fair, loopsided to BN’s advantages, taking BN as their master.

    If election process is not fair in the course of pursuing democracy, it is called the “best democrazy in the world” ala 1 Malaysia.

  3. #3 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Wednesday, 4 April 2012 - 12:11 pm

    Complain some more and umno will give indons in indonesia voting rights via the post!

    But seriously, this is pathetic. I hv a suggestion to make. A two in one suggestion. (1) On lowering voting age to 18. (2) Automatic registration. All citizens are required to renew their Identity cards at the age of 18, that could be a convenient point to register them as new voters. The IC renewal and election registration can be integrated into one process.

  4. #4 by cseng on Wednesday, 4 April 2012 - 12:37 pm

    Umno will argue by these:

    “if EC is not fair there was no 308”,

    “we have reformed EC, EC proposed a change to the constitution, a change that automatic grant 50% of MP quota to Umno at any GE, we could do that as we had 2/3 majority then, and we say No!, that is reform”

  5. #5 by monsterball on Thursday, 5 April 2012 - 3:04 am

    EC and Najib not listening!!
    BERSIH 3 on 28th April is to walk the talks again.

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