Bersih 2.0: Political parties must push for RCI on poll reforms

File picture of the Bersih 2.0 committee at the press conference in Teluk Intan, May 28, 2014. Bersih 2.0 wants all political parties to commit to appointing two Royal Commissions of Inquiry (RCIs) on Malaysia’s electoral system and local elections if they win power. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
File picture of the Bersih 2.0 committee at the press conference in Teluk Intan, May 28, 2014. Bersih 2.0 wants all political parties to commit to appointing two Royal Commissions of Inquiry (RCIs) on Malaysia’s electoral system and local elections if they win power. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — Bersih 2.0 wants all political parties to commit to appointing two Royal Commissions of Inquiry (RCIs) on Malaysia’s electoral system and local elections if they win power.

The group said failure to reform the electoral system will see the Malaysian politics perpetually plagued by communalism and corruption, regardless whichever parties and coalitions win.

“Malaysians need to deliberate and debate on concrete alternatives that must be in package, so that the new system can have the widest possible acceptability and legitimacy,” it said in a statement.

“This makes Royal Commissions of Inquiry the best way to ensure an inclusive national conversation before any changes.”

Bersih said a national consensus for the proposal could see genuine changes be introduced before the 15th General Election (GE15).

“Otherwise, the proposals can be decided in the GE15 as voters can choose to support parties which support or oppose the changes,” it added.

The group has proposed two RCIs: first to study the functioning of elections and parties, which should include electoral system, to promote vote-seat proportionality and political inclusion of all communities and segments in Malaysia.

This included a study into the electoral rolls, automatic voter registration and absentee voting; the funding of party operation and election campaigns; campaign and media freedom during and off-election; caretaker government and administrative neutrality; and the reform of the Election Commission (EC).

The demand followed what Bersih 2.0 alleged to EC “blatantly unconstitutional acts”.

The group had repeatedly accused the regulator of a partisan delineation review, which is now being rushed to be tabled in the parliament.

It also said the EC had engaged in the arbitrary extension of postal and advanced voting facility and included military voters in uncompleted barracks.

“This suggest the entire system is broken and has become a national threat under seven ex-senior civil servants (who sit as Commissioners in the Election Commission) without any sense of integrity and shame,” Bersih said.

The second RCI will look into the consolidation and democratisation of local governments.

The proposed scope included an audit on the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution to propose a reasonable division of power between federal, state and local governments, to ensure viability and relevance of state governments after introduction of local elections.

It also proposed the consolidation of local authorities and district office into one body with commensurate administrative, legislative and financial powers.

The group added that electoral system and suffrage for local elections is to ensure vote-seat proportionality and political inclusion of all communities and segments in Malaysia.  

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