KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — The G25 group has sided with electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 against former Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar who called for chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun and his commissioners to resign.
The group said since Azhar’s appointment in 2018, the EC’s image has been improved through the reforms and actions taken by its commissioners, including in recent by-elections.
“They have instilled a good sense of transparency, integrity and accountability in the electoral process that was sorely lacking in the previous government,” G25 said in a statement.
It added that under the current EC, the public felt comfortable that they were being heard and their concerns addressed when it comes to electoral reforms.
“G25 was also impressed during our previous meeting with the EC chairman who told us that his team was working in close consultation with the Electoral Reform Committee to propose the structural changes for creating a fair and equitable electoral system.
“This is important for making elections a meaningful process in our democracy. It would be a great loss and injustice to the people should the current Commissioners resign now, since Malaysia is in a stage of political and economic uncertainty,” the group said.
G25 argued that in order for Malaysia to retain its stability, independent democratic institutions like the EC need to continue functioning with good leaders like Azhar, no matter the political climate.
“We hope that under the new government, there will be no interference with the independence of institutions set up under the powers of the Federal Constitution.
“Those appointed to serve on regulatory agencies such as the Election Commission must be allowed to complete their term as they derive their authority not from the Prime Minister or his Cabinet but from the head of state i.e His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” it said, adding this is to ensure EC members are free to perform their duties of conducting the national and state elections without fear or favour to any political interests.
On Friday, Bersih’s steering committee criticised Wan Ahmad for calling for the EC members to resign from their posts, stating that it was an attack on the commission’s integrity as well as the Federal Constitution and democracy.
Similarly, on Saturday PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said the party did not see any need for Azhar and the commissioners to resign simply due to a change in government, given the lack of a constitutional provision requiring them to do so and as long as they still retain the public’s trust.