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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bersih may take to the streets again if Putrajaya fails to listen

If the recommendations by civil society for electoral reform continue to be ignored by the government, Putrajaya may be looking at another Bersih rally this year.
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) chairman Maria Chin Abdullah (pic) said if the powers that be still do not listen to the people, then Bersih 4.0 may happen.
She said Bersih is going to Parliament on Tuesday to present findings that the 13th General Election was neither free nor fair, and recommendations for electoral reform.
The findings will be presented to the prime minister and the relevant people who can make policy decisions and law reforms, she said.
"If we have done all we can (through proper channels) and the government still does not listen, we will have to go back to the people and, of course, they will be angry. The government will have to face that anger.
"This is because so much effort has been put in. Pemantau Pilihan Raya Rakyat (Pemantau) has 3,000 people involved in studying the election while many from the People's Tribunal took risks by collecting evidence.
"We have to recognise that this is (a form of) people's power," she told reporters in Penang after launching the Delineation, Action and Research Team (DART) for the 14th General Election this afternoon.
Pemantau is made up of Bersih, Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) and Pusat Komas.
Bersih's People's Tribunal has recently completed its report on last year's general election. The report last week revealed that the polls last year had multiple failings in the manner it was conducted.
The complaints include political violence, electoral roll irregularities, bribery, threats, illegal campaigning, use of government machinery and property, harassment of election observers and others, which civil society has been lamenting and criticising for years.
Maria said Bersih will continue to fight for electoral reform like replacing postal voting with advance voting, and tasking an independent boundaries commission to handle boundary delimitation to curb issues like gerrymandering.
Asked what Bersih is seeking to achieve with another mass public rally when the previous three gatherings had been chaotic and disruptive while bringing little electoral reform, Maria said Bersih had managed to bring change to some extent.
She said after Bersih first started in 2007, they managed to change the 2008 general election results that saw the dominant party lose its two-third majority in Parliament.
"With Bersih 2.0 in 2011, we managed to get Putrajaya to set up a parliamentary select committee to look into electoral reforms in April 2012.
"Bersih 3.0 in 2012 got the Election Commission to use indelible ink although we know it is a failure now. Despite the ink being easy to wash off, it still stopped some of the fraud.
"There were changes, although they were not enough, so we should not see the rallies as ineffective. The entire situation is reflective of the government, which is the one that is ineffective," she said.
Maria said the government has continued to fail to see why the people are angry and feel they have to take their frustration to the streets and demand for electoral reforms.
"To be honest, the government has actually failed us badly, although it has talked about transformation programmes.
"It is not that we are objecting for the sake of objecting, but we feel the country should be allowed to grow," she said, adding that the people also do not want Malaysia to become politically unstable like Thailand and Cambodia.
Maria also said civil society's fight for change does not mean they are trying to create instability in the nation.
"Malaysia has always enjoyed stability. We are actually in the process of making the country more stable, just and equitable." 

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