Press Statement: 1 January 2012
BERSIH 2.0 New Year’s Message: Clean up the Nation with our Votes
The Year 2011 has been a deeply frustrating one if one examines the performance of the Malaysian State.
From the 50-cent-per-email 1Malaysia Email, the RM 1.8 million Cuti-cuti Malaysia Facebook applications, to the latest cow-in-condominium fiasco, Malaysia does not appear to be confronting its economic woes and corruption in the country.
The year 2011 also saw some of the most serious infringement of human rights and the rule of law:
The death of Ahmad Sarbani at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) premises;
the one-month long crack-down on BERSIH 2.0 resulting in the single-day arrest of 1667 persons;
the unjust detention without trail of the PSM6;
the fast, quick passing of the amendments to the Employment Act, despite strong protest from the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) and CSOs; and
the Peaceful Assembly Bill which was bulldozed through the Parliament.
This list is not exhaustive. We also witness the impunity of violence and hatred granted to fascist groups and their propaganda machines, with the view to dividing the rakyat and to create inter-communal and inter-religious disharmony.
However, the Year 2011 will also go down in our history as one of the most glorious years for the empowerment and courage of the rakyat. Who can forget the 50,000 brave Malaysians who took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur on July 9 to demand clean elections, clean politics and clean government.
These brave Malaysians marched proudly, defying threats of violence and intimidation by the ruling administration, extremist groups and the partisan media, and ultimately water cannons, tear gas and police batons.
Amidst the crackdown by the police, the divided Malaysians were transformed into a united people. Many cried as they sang Negaraku, feeling the solidarity and love for the country. Generations to come shall remember the July 9 protesters with gratitude and fondness, especially the late Baharudin Ahmad who died for democracy,.
In their triumph over fear, the rakyat chartered a course for democracy for the nation that day.
The July 9 protest, both at home and abroad, resulted in the announcing by the government plans of political transformation and the setting of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reform. We welcome the Election Commission’s (EC) latest decision to implement indelible ink, unfortunately the only one out of BERSIH 2.0’s eight demands that is fully accepted. Indelible ink will prevent multiple voting and recycling of phantoms.
However, phantoms, clones, illegally enfranchised foreigners and other fraudulent registrations can only be eliminated with a thorough clean-up of the electoral rolls, before any elections can take place.
We are therefore deeply disappointed with the EC and the PSC for the few reforms announced on the cleaning up of the electoral rolls and absentee voting, as well as their complete silence on five other BERSIH’s demands.
Elections cannot be clean, free and fair when 3.7 million eligible citizens are kept out of the electoral rolls due to slow registration process and rejection of automatic voter registration; when fraudulent names in certified electoral rolls cannot be challenged in court and cleaned up transparently; when overseas Malaysians are denied their constitutional right to vote; when other civilian absent voters are also denied distant voting facilities.
Malaysians have made history in 2011. We must now make it count. We must stress that nothing short of the fulfilment of all of BERSIH 2.0’s demands is acceptable.
Automatic voter registration, absentee voting available for all, 21 days of campaign period, televised debates, administrative neutrality of public institutions, prosecution on vote buying, elimination of dirty politics, must all be implemented before the next General Elections.
Finally, it is the right and responsibility of every eligible voter to register themselves as voters, and for every registered voter to exercise their right to vote. Let this be your new year’s resolution for 2012.
Happy New Year!
Salam BERSIH 2.0!
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH 2.0)
The Steering Committee of BERSIH 2.0 comprises:
Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan (Chairperson), Andrew Khoo, Arul Prakkash, Arumugam K., Dr Farouk Musa, Liau Kok Fah, Maria Chin Abdullah, Richard Y W Yeoh, Dr Subramaniam Pillay, Dato’ Dr Toh Kin Woon, Dr Wong Chin Huat, Dato’ Yeo Yang Poh and Zaid Kamaruddin.