Monday, 14 March 2011

Bersih warns of Egypt-style rally

The electoral reform groups points out that the government in Egypt fell because the people could not exercise their voting rights in a free and fair manner.

From Free Malaysia Today:

KUALA LUMPUR: Electoral reform group Bersih may consider holding a second mass rally ala Egypt’s Tahrir Square uprising to demand for reform in Malaysia’s election system.

The idea will have PAS’ backing, said Mohd Sabu, chief of the Islamic party’s Democracy Driver Committee.

According to him, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government has forced voters to resort to such a move.

“The BN government is forcing people to take the streets,” he told a press conference at the PAS headquarters here.

Bersih held its first mass rally in the city in late 2007 which saw close to 80,000 people taking to the streets to protest against the Election Commission (EC) and its alleged biasness.

Two new demands

The protesters marched towards the National Palace to hand over a memorandum demanding the implementation of four key reforms:

The review of the alleged tainted electoral roll, abolishing postal votes, fair media coverage and a minimum of 21 days campaigning period for the general election.

PAS, whose leaders sit on the Bersih Steering Committee, said two more demands have been added to the original – that constituency delineation be done based on social needs and better enforcement to prevent political bribery.

One of the leaders, PAS central working committee member Dr Dzulkelfly Ahmad cited two alleged cases of “blatant” political bribery made by BN chairman and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

One was in the Sibu by-election where Najib was quoted by the media as saying “you help me, I help you” when he promised voters there to tackle the prolonged flood problems if BN won the parliamentary seat.

Dzulkefly said Najib made an almost similar remark at the recent Kerdau by-election in Pahang that saw PAS defeated by BN.

The premier purportedly told Kerdau voters during a ceramah “we do not buy votes but if you support us we will increase your allocation”.

“If this is not corruption, I don’t know what is corruption,” the PAS leader told the same press conference.

There were no concrete discussions yet on the second rally dubbed “Bersih 2″ but Mohd Sabu hinted that a mass demonstration was more than likely.

“Whether or not we take to the streets depends on the leader. If they do not meet our demands (for electoral reform), then the voters will definitely resort to street protest,” he said.

Should Bersih decide otherwise, the former PAS vice-president said the PAS leadership would meet to discuss what path to take next.

Najib and his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin had both warned against any attempt by opposition supporters to emulate the bloody Egypt uprising and accused Pakatan Rakyat leaders of intentionally using the upheaval there to instigate their supporters.

However, Mohd Sabu said the rally would not be held to topple BN but to demand what “is inherently the voters’ right to free and fair elections.”

“The government of Egypt fell because the voters no longer can exercise a fair, free election and they resorted to street protests,” he added.

EC deputy chairman must resign

Meanwhile, Syed Azman Syed Ahmad, another PAS central working committee member who sits with the Bersih leadership, claimed that he has evidence that deputy EC chief Wan Ahmad Wan Omar was conspiring with BN to topple Pakatan state governments.

He made no disclosure of the proof to back his allegation but demanded Wan Ahmad’s immediate resignation.

“He is supposed to act impartially but he has been blatantly open in his support and has acted like a BN stool,” said Syed Azman.

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