Home Coalitions Clean and Fair Elections Parliament bypassed! Bersih questions Anwar’s commitment to electoral reform

Parliament bypassed! Bersih questions Anwar’s commitment to electoral reform

Bersih held its first meeting with a serving prime minister when the team met Anwar Ibrahim on 28 February 2024 - ANWAR IBRAHIM/FACEBOOK

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The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) expresses our deepest disappointment in the “unity government” and Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim for violating their election promise for the third time in appointing an election commissioner without vetting by parliamentary committees.

This was done despite the chair of the parliamentary Special Select Committee on Elections, Institutional Reform and Human Rights, William Leong, having issued a statement on 17 May saying that his committee had agreed and is ready to review the appointment of the new Election Commission chairperson.

The announcement went against the parliamentary committee’s wishes that the appointment should be done openly in consultation with the Parliament, and has undermined Parliament.

Worryingly, this appointment appears to have also breached Article 114(1) of the Federal Constitution, which states that the election commissioner shall be appointed by the Agong after consultation with the Conference of Rulers. As far as we know, there has been no Conference of Rulers meeting recently. Here is a question we put to the prime minister: did this appointment bypass the Conference of Rulers?

Bersih wants to remind both Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional that they had promised in their manifestos (Buku Harapan and Padu) that all key appointments – including for the Election Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and for governor of Bank Negara – would be reviewed through the special parliamentary committee.

We regret the lack of transparency in this appointment process.

Nonetheless, we wish the new chairman, Ramlan Harun, the best in executing his duties to lead the commission. We hope he has the will to implement electoral reforms and will maintain an open-door policy of engaging with stakeholders from civil society.

READ MORE:  Pengumuman William Leong dialu-alukan - tetapi Anwar perlu mengesahkannya

The new Election Commission chairperson should also be bold and proactive in driving the electoral reform agenda, including making the conduct of elections fairer, especially given the rampant abuse of government resources during the campaign period.

Bersih will hand over a memorandum containing the demands of urgent and necessary electoral reforms to the new Election Commission leadership at Menara SPR (the Election Commission headquarters) in Putrajaya in the near future, after the Sungai Bakap by-election.

We trust the new Election Commission chairperson will engage us in a professional manner, as this will be a litmus test whether the new leadership of the commission is keen on the reform agenda or not.

This announcement by the “Madani” (civil and compassionate) government comes one day after two other regressive developments:

  • First, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Johari Abdul, stated that the bill for the parliamentary services act will once again be postponed to the next parliamentary session and
  • Second, the use of the Sedition Act to interrogate activist Mukmin Nantang from Borneo Komrad regarding the Bajau Laut evictions

With these developments, Putrajaya vindicated our assessment earlier this month when we gave them an F for electoral reforms.

As for Anwar, he had prepared for the country’s top job since becoming deputy PM in 1993. One must really ask, is this all the reform he can deliver after 31 years of preparation? – Bersih

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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