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Bersih shocked over hastily passed report

 | April 3, 2012

The election watchdog also deplores the decision by the Speaker not to include a minority report into the main PSC report.

PETALING JAYA: Election watchdog Bersih 2.0 expressed its “shock” over the manner in which the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) report on electoral reforms was passed in Parliament today.

The Dewan Rakyat erupted into pandemonium earlier today when Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia passed the PSC report even without debating the matter and putting an unexpected early end to the session.

Pandikar earlier rejected a motion by opposition MPs in the PSC to table a minority report to the main report. This minority report would highlight matters that could not be agreed upon by the PSC.

“We are shocked at the manner in which the PSC’s report was received and adopted by the Dewan Rakyat today without any debate.

“Furthermore, we deplore the decision by the Speaker not to permit the inclusion of a minority report together with the main PSC report,” Bersih 2.0 said in a statement today.

It added that the fact that there was no debate only showed that the majority of the MPs “are none too concerned about the nature and extent of fraud and other irregularities in connection with the electoral rolls and the conduct of elections” in the country.

It said that a “golden opportunity” to right the wrongs was missed and irregularities which have been highlighted so far would continue “unabated”.

“Time and time again, the Election Commission has shown itself to be incapable or unwilling to initiate reforms of the electoral system.

“We question whether the EC has sufficient credibility to commit itself to undertaking the proposed recommendations,” it said.

Lack of time-frame

Bersih 2.0 also believes that the recommendations can be implemented immediately without further delay.

It repeated its previous call that all recommendations be implemented in their entirety before the upcoming national polls.

The lack of a time-frame to implement some of the recommendations was also criticised as Bersih claims that this would merely increase the dissatisfaction of the people.

“While some recommendations do provide for a time-frame to report back, many others do not. The lack of a time-line merely adds to the frustration of the people.”

Spearheaded by Bersih 2.0, thousands took to the street in July last year demanding free and fair election. The PSC was formed partly in response to the rally.

Today it was reported that Bersih plans to hold another rally by the end of this month.

It sent out an eight-page press statement listing its feedback on all 22 points proposed by the PSC.

Bersih 2.0 also said it was disappointed that a number of key issues were not dealt with by the PSC.

It said that the PSC had failed to look into instances of manipulation of the electroral roll such as the removal of names, changing of the electoral boundaries, and other discrepancies.

Dirty politics

The election watchdog also said that the PSC report made no reference to foreigners being given citizenship for their votes in the Peninsula although the report did acknowledge that such a problem existed in Sabah.

“Nothing is said in the report about election offences…

“There ought also to have been a study into the types of offences committed, and recommendations on how to prevent them.

“Although there is a suggestion that the EC be given more powers to deal with such issues, the PSC did not seek to identify the problems and the clear infringements of the Election Offences Act 1954,” it said.

Bersih 2.0 was also disappointed that the PSC report did not mention how to stop dirty politics except for “a reference to a code of conduct to be drawn up in relation to a caretaker government”.

“In fact, there ought to be a code of conduct in relation to all candidates and political parties. Bersih 2.0 gave an example of such a code of conduct, from India, to the PSC.”

It added that the PSC report also made no reference about inviting international observers.

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