KUALA LUMPUR: The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) today called on the Election Commission (EC) to immediately withdraw new guidelines that it has introduced for the campaign period.
Bersih said in a statement that the “sudden imposition” of these new regulations just before nomination day was “unreasonable, unfair and a violation of the freedom of expression of political parties”.
Bersih asked: “Will EC now remove all the posters, billboards and digital screens in Kuala Lumpur that feature Tengku Adnan (Tengku Mansor) when he is not a candidate for any parliamentary seat in Kuala Lumpur but Putrajaya?”
The EC has imposed new conditions requiring all political parties contesting in the coming election to obtain special permits for their campaign materials.
It has also limited the pictures of political leaders which can be displayed on campaign materials to only those with the rank of president and deputy president, or their equivalent.
On larger banners showing multiple political leaders, only the president, deputy president, state chief and menteri besar, or the equivalent, can appear, based on the registered logo or party used by the candidates.
The new requirements will be in effect throughout the campaign period from April 28 to May 8.
Bersih questioned the necessity and rationale behind the additional conditions, saying there were bigger issues that the EC should resolve.
“In view of the other larger electoral issues that require the immediate attention of the Election Commission, it is surprising that the EC chose to focus on regulating campaign materials of political parties.
“The EC should instead be coming out with clear guidelines on discrepancies in the electoral roll, caretaker government, postal voting and advance voting.”
It noted that there had been no problems in featuring individuals other than the president, deputy president and candidate in campaign materials of political parties in the past 13 general elections.
“Why are these additional regulations suddenly needed now?
“Will banners, posters, billboards of ceramah, events and activities that feature the speakers, other than the candidate, president and deputy president of the party of the candidate, be removed from the constituency?
“If implemented, these regulations will effectively ban the appearance of photos of Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim in all constituencies run by Pakatan Harapan under PKR’s logo.
“Meanwhile, the Barisan Nasional will have no problems featuring the photos of Najib Razak as the prime minister and Zahid Hamidi as deputy prime minister in their materials as they are the head and deputy head of Barisan Nasional.”
Bersih noted that, earlier, the EC had amended the regulations, making the counting of votes to be conducted simultaneously for state and parliamentary seats on polling day.
“We call on the EC to stop such arbitrary amendments of the regulations and urge the EC to consult all stakeholders before making any future amendments.”