Bersih's electoral reform drive should move beyond mere procedural and structural matters, says Hindraf national advisor Ganesan.
GEORGE TOWN: Hindraf Makkal Sakti wants election watchdog, Bersih coalition to address the serious issue of minority disenfranchisement in their pursuit for electoral reforms.
Its national advisor N Ganesan said the Bersih’s electoral reform drive should move beyond mere procedural and structural matters.
He said a truly democratic political system must allow minorities a voice of their own to articulate their distinct concerns, seek redress and lay the basis for a deliberative democracy.
“Electoral reform drive should target such progressive goals because it’s not all about better procedures but very much about a better system,” he said.
Nonetheless he welcomed the Bersih 3.0 rally on Apr 28, saying that Bersih initiatives for electoral reforms were in line with Hindraf’s struggle for fundamental changes to correct the skewed and racist system that marginalises the minorities, especially ethnic Indian poor.
But he argued the current system centering on electoral process does not protect the rights and interests of minorities, and Bersih’s reform drive has overlooked the issue.
“The current system effectively excludes vital minorities’ interests from government policies,” Ganesan said in a statement here today.
As Malaysian politics was deeply rooted in the ethos of promoting communal interests, overtly and covertly, he is also unconvinced that interests of minorities can be served by majority representatives.
Acknowledging that some would disagree with him, Ganesan rightly noted that they would also fail to explain on why majority of all minority groups were lagging behind others in socio-economic terms.
He said some would argue that ethnic Indians were well represented by pointing to the number of Indian elected representatives.
“But adequate minority representation goes beyond minority members being included in legislatures.
“Minority rights are dependent on how legitimate these representatives are and on whether they have power and influence over policies affecting the minorities they purport to represent,” he argued.
He noted the 22 recommendations proposed by parliamentary select committee (PSC ) on electoral reforms and criticisms by Pakatan Rakyat MPs and Bersih coalition all centred on matters pertaining to machinery and procedures underlying the electoral process.
“But disenfranchisement of minorities did not receive any attention,” he chided.
He called on Bersih to take cognizance of such serious systemic weaknesses and address them with urgency and compulsion in its reform drive.
Last week Hindraf’s P Uthayakumar ruled out the movement’s support for the April 28 Bersih 3.0 rally unless Pakatan Rakyat’s PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim, DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang agreed to outline their plans for Indian poor in the first 100 days if Pakatan forms the next federal government.
A couple of days later Hindraf said that Uthayakumar was no longer its spokesman.