Since the launch of BERSIH 2.0 in April 2010, its sole purpose as a civil society movement has been to push for urgent electoral reforms ahead of the next general elections. BERSIH 2.0 made efforts to consult with the Election Commission (EC) on key aspects of the changes required to ensure free and fair elections become a reality in Malaysia.
After more than a year passed, BERSIH 2.0 decided that a mass mobilisation of citizens was needed and the BERSIH 2.0 rally was called on 9 July 2011. Instead of heeding the voice of its citizens, the government chose to use heavy police force on this peaceful demonstration, which gained international coverage. After the rally, a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) was formed to look at electoral reforms. However, the PSC report did not receive sufficient attention from the EC and BERSIH 2.0 responded with the call for a “Duduk Bantah” on 28 April 2012, which saw an unprecedented 250,000 citizens taking to the streets.
These moves from BERSIH 2.0 were purely aimed at drawing the attention of the authorities to the urgent demand from the public, who will no longer stand by and allow the electoral process to continue as a lop-sided and undemocratic exercise. If the EC cannot make these crucial reforms happen, what then is the role of the commission?
No commitment, real reluctance
Furthermore there appears to be a real reluctance to invite international observers although this was recommended by the PSC. If our system is as clean as is claimed, our EC should confidently invite observers from around the world to observe these elections.
The EC and the government has also failed to allow for free and fair access to the media, allowing only a pre-recording all political parties' manifestos. Of all the reforms we have sought, this must surely be the easiest to fulfil yet it remains unfulfilled.