KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Electoral reforms group Bersih 2.0 urged Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today to share the interim report of the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) with all Malaysians.
The Bersih 2.0 steering committee said this would allow for all stakeholders the opportunity to offer their input and comments before the submission of the ERC’s final report, scheduled on August 2020.
“Such a public engagement process without the full disclosure of the interim report would not be effective, meaningful and democratic.
“It will further create unnecessary distrust and derail the reform process,” said Bersih 2.0 steering committee in a statement today.
Yesterday, the ERC presented its interim report on electoral reforms to the prime minister
Among the 15 items discussed were the first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system, proposal to announce the date of the next general election earlier, as well as forming an Electoral Boundary Committee for redelineation exercise.
The outcome of the interim report was achieved by the ERC organising 21 stakeholders’ engagement sessions since then, and are satisfied with the feedback received from the civil societies, public and political parties involved.
Bersih 2.0 also said that as elections are the basis of democracy, they will determine the legitimacy of the government elected.
“In order for an electoral reform process to be successful and legitimate, the process should be transparent with meaningful public participation.
“This will ensure the recommendations eventually proposed by the ERC and adopted by the government have the support of most stakeholders and will receive bi-partisan support in Parliament,” the statement said.
In addition, Bersih 2.0 has urged the ERC to use the interim report as a base to embark on a second stage of public consultation from now until August 2020 with all stakeholders, including all political parties from both sides of the political divide, civil society organisations, academicians and public members before finalising the report.
Bersih 2.0 also said that the ERC’s interim should not suffer the same fate of the report of the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) or the Institutional Reform Committee (IRC) report submitted to the government.
Joining the calls of civil society for the CEP and IRC reports to be made public as well, Bersih 2.0 urged the government to take this opportunity to make the ERC interim report public and break the culture of ‘keeping the public in the dark’.
“This should not be a feature of the new Malaysia promised by Pakatan Harapan (PH).
“In its manifesto for the 14th General Election, PH has promised to ensure transparency in our election system. This is the time for PH to walk the talk and release the ERC interim report to the public without further delay,” it said.
Last March, the government had refused to declassify the CEP report and release it to the public, to prevent it from alleged abuses by the previous administration.
The CEP report is currently placed under the Official Secrets Act.
As for the IRC report, calls were made by civil society for the prime minister to consider releasing the report, deeming it crucial for the report to be released in order to receive feedback from the public.
Dr Mahathir has since said that he is willing to make the IRC report public but stated that a consensus must first be reached between the parties in the PH coalition first.
The IRC was set up to look into the reform of government agencies that had been the subject of political controversy.
Among others include the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), the police force, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Election Commission (EC).