The tribunal started hearing testimonies from the public on the alleged electoral misconduct during the May general election on Sept 22. It has now fixed Sept 27 to conclude its findings.
Throughout the session, the tribunal heard from many witnesses on their experiences in observing election manipulation – in all occassions to work for the benefit of Barisan Nasional.
Taking the stand today, Ambiga – dubbed as the star witness as she has led two massive public demonstrations to call for a free and fair election – shared her findings and experiences in regards to the role of the Election Commission as the legitimate body to run the election, and the whole process of the general election.
The proceeding however turned out to be a very technical explanation with the panel members questioning Ambiga on the whole process of the pre- and post-election period, as well as the irregularities that allegedly happened during the electoral process.
Among the highlighted issues brought up by Ambiga were the failure of the indelible ink, the problems faced by overseas voters, and the treatment and duties of the Election Commission, as well as the ruling government of the day on the manipulation of issues pertaining the electoral process.
“We had a meeting with the EC, for me it was a positive meeting. I felt we were going to work well,” she said.
“Soon after the Sarawak state election (in April 2011), things weren’t improving and we in Bersih found it important that something needs to be done,” Ambiga said, explaining the need for the peaceful street protest in 2011.
However her strong views against the EC caught the attention of one of the panelists who openly said that it was not ‘appropriate’ to blame everything on the electoral body.
Dr Mavis Puthucheary, an associate professor in economics in University of Malaya, said: “Our role is not to criticise the EC but to look for a way to improve the system.
“I think their hands are tied, thus they are seen to be on the side of the government,” she rebutted Ambiga.
Ambiga also expressed the importance of abolishing Section 9(a) of the Elections Act 1958 as it was unconstitutional and allows non-voters to vote.
Section 9(a) reads: “After an electoral roll has been certified or re-certified, as the case may be, and notice of the certification or re-certification has been published in the Gazette as prescribed by regulations made under this Act, the electoral roll shall be deemed to be final and binding and shall not be questioned or appealed against in, or reviewed, quashed or set aside by, any court.”
She also said that the government should allow the United Nations to be involved in the process of electoral reforms, citing the example of it being done in Bangladesh.