The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) is shocked by Bersatu vice-president Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman’s suggestion that the party should use its position as the government of the day to channel resources and projects to division chiefs so that they can win elections “by hook or by crook”.
He said this as part of his speech at Bersatu’s recent annual general meeting, and he received a standing ovation from the delegates present. It makes one wonder if the Pakatan Harapan government in general and Bersatu specifically is committed to electoral and institutional reforms.
Have Rashid and the cheering delegates forgotten so quickly why Malaysians rejected the previous Umno-BN government just seven months ago? The abuse of power by the ruling elites through the channelling of government resources, corruption and political patronage emitted such a revolting stench that it united Malaysians to say “enough is enough” on 9 May 2018.
To be the government is not a reward, but a responsibility entrusted to politicians by the people. Serve diligently, effectively and honestly, and the people will renew the contract every five years. Abuse your power to enrich yourselves and those you favour, and the people will take that power from you, and the law will be brought to bear on you.
Bersih 2.0 applauds the Bersatu youth wing, which immediately rejected Rashid’s suggestion. The fact that these future leaders of the party understand that such a culture of corruption must be eradicated is most encouraging.
Bersih 2.0 urges Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is also Bersatu chairman, to tackle the root of corruption in the political establishment by hastening the implementation of the following reforms:
- a) Enact an administrative neutrality act to deal with cronyism, patronage, the abuse of government resources and public power for partisan purposes. Those who commit the crime should face criminal prosecution while those who fail to justify their acts may be subject to administrative penalties such as termination of service, demotion or transfer. The prime minister has to stop this culture and mentality of turning the government into the party’s feast lest PH becomes the very image of the old government it deposed.
- Enact a political financing control act to introduce transparency in political financing and establish rules on access to political funding, limits on contributions, expenditure and disclosures. The bill should act as a measure against the appropriation and misuse of funds belonging to the government by political parties, as in the 1MDB scandal. This is Promise 18 in the PH manifesto and it should be introduced without delay.
- Enhance the status, autonomy and power of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) through constitutional and legal amendments. As stated in Promise 14 of the PH manifesto, the MACC should be answerable to Parliament and its commissioners vetted and validated by Parliament.
- Empower the Electoral Commission with prosecutorial power to ensure that political parties, candidates and their agents comply with election laws, that there will be a level playing field for all competing parties and that the incumbent government will not use government machinery and resources to win elections.
Without these reforms, the battle against political corruption is a losing one and it will be a matter of time that more scandals emerge of government-linked companies being used to enrich politicians and those connected to the and them and of national institutions like Felda, Tabung Haji, 1MDB and EPF being plundered.
Bersih 2.0 steering committee