KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has urged the Election Commission (EC) to reject the requirement for candidates in the ongoing Tanjung Piai by-election to apply for a permit to conduct door-to-door campaigning, as stipulated by the police.
Its steering committee said such a requirement is not based on law, is a restriction upon the freedom to campaign, and has never been practiced in Malaysia’s previous elections.
“Bersih 2.0, once again, urges the police and the EC to revoke this requirement and allow the Tanjung Piai by-election candidates the freedom to campaign in whatever way they feel is necessary as long as they adhere to the Election Offences Act 1954 and other related laws,” the watchdog said in a statement.
“We wish to remind the EC and all that it is mandated by the Federal Constitution to request assistance from public authorities to assist the conduct of elections,” Bersih added.
It cited Article 115(2) of the Constitution, stating that all public authorities shall on the request of the EC give it such assistance in the discharge of its duties as may be practicable.
“The police could not go beyond the limit set out in Section 24B of Election Offences Act 1954, which states that the candidate only need to obtain a permit from the police if he wishes to organise any meetings, rally, display, or such entertainment involving speeches or lectures.
“It is unreasonable for the police to impose unnecessary rules to restrict the campaigning methods of a candidate, more so when the rules are set midway of the campaigning period. With the short campaign period, the requirement is unreasonable and unfair for the candidates,” Bersih said.
It also suggested that since assembly under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 does not require police permits, any need for it to conduct political talks per the Election Offences Act 1954 should also be accordingly abolished.
The Johor constituency is set to cast its ballot on the polling day this Saturday.