The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) rejects Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim’s deceptive ‘assurance’ today that elections can still proceed in areas that have been marked as security zones under the National Security Council Bill.
The dangers of the NSC Bill are clear. Provisions of the bill still have effect even if they contravene an existing law, including any law governing the conduct of elections. If elections are held when the country is under a ‘security area’, the Election Commission can be brought under the control of the National Security Council.
The council also has the power to evacuate any areas, declare curfews, control the movement of people, take possession of any property and use any resources it deems necessary. It is a fallacy to believe such an environment is conducive to free and fair elections.
The National Security Council Bill, therefore, contains various provisions, which if invoked, would make free and fair elections an impossibility. These powers lie in the hands of a scandal-hit prime minister and his close allies, who have manipulated and weakened the institutions of this country to preserve their positions of power. Mere assurances from any individual are not enough to protect fundamental democratic principles and human rights.
As seen with the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, assurances it would not be used for political purposes were meaningless when it came to the detention of some of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s strongest critics. There are too many instances where the terms ‘national security’ and ‘public order’ have been abused to clamp down on fundamental liberties.
Bersih 2.0 cannot and will not put blind faith in the words of a minister to ensure the protection of the rights of the Malaysian people.
Bersih 2.0 affirms that the National Security Council Bill is an infringement of the Federal Constitution. We demand the government withdraw the NSC Bill and start focusing on implementing long-overdue institutional reforms to salvage Malaysia’s democratic system.
This statement was issued by the Bersih 2.0 steering committee.