Open Letter to the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader of Malaysia:
MALAYSIAN ELECTIONS REFORM PROGRAMME (MERP)
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A Citizen Initiative for the Promotion of Free and Fair Elections
Prime Minister, Dato Seri Najib Razak, has declared during an ntv7 talk show on 9th Apr 2012:
“I’d like to repeat it once more that we will not want to be elected on the basis that we have rigged the elections or manipulated the elections.” (Tindakmalaysia andFMT)
Despite years of protests and appeals by Malaysians, the Election Commission (EC) has not taken any significant steps to improve the electoral system. Instead, it has got worse! There are millions of suspicious voters on the electoral rolls. Introduction of indelible ink and Advance Voting to partially replace Postal Voting appear to be insincere attempts to relieve public pressure, instead of resolving concerns over the unfair electoral process. It is clear the EC is an obstacle to Free and Fair Elections. We urge you to dismiss the present EC immediately and replace them with an Independent EC. We have proposed detailed procedures on how this can be accomplished in the MERP documents submitted to you already.
Free and Fair Elections
Having observed the EC for decades, we have realised that they will not make any proposal to change the laws to ensure free and fair elections. Time and again, they will play for time and at the last minute, plead that they are unable to perform due to lack of time or resources. Despite having a budget of RM 400 million (with another RM 300 million for security), and clear-cut recommendations from the PSC on Electoral Reform, they still have not come up with any decent documents that will improve the electoral process. .
In fact, the introduction of indelible ink before issue of the ballot paper to a voter can potentially, create chaos on polling day. This is contrary to common international practice where marking of the fingers are made after voting! Furthermore, the seating of the polling agent so far away from the polling clerk will make it very difficult for them to verify the presence or absence of ink on the voter’s finger.
The EC has specified that Advance Voting for the Army and the Police shall be at least 3 days before polling day. That means the indelible ink for advance voters has to last at least (3+1) ie 4 days. But it is generally recognized that indelible ink is guaranteed for 72 hours maximum. Although it may be possible for the stain on the finger nails to last longer, current procedures has no provision barring the application of nail polish on the finger nails or a clear coating on the fingers that will prevent the ink from acting on the skin. So a voter can frustrate the objective of the indelible ink by painting the fingers with nail polish or coating the fingers with clear glue. On polling day, an Advance Voter can possibly enter the polling centre without any ink stain on his finger, and assume another identity.
Posting Voting for Overseas Malaysians
This is a very clearly stated in the PSC on Electoral Reform Report. We seem to see attempts by the EC to delay the approval until there will not be enough time for overseas Malaysians to register, first as voters and then as Postal Voters. At this late stage, it is probably not possible for Overseas Malaysians to register as postal voters in time. Such irresponsible behaviour on the part of the EC is inexcusable. To alleviate the problem, the EC must conduct mass registration of overseas Malaysians online through the internet, allowing them to register directly as postal voters. This will enable the next batch of voters to be gazetted by 21st Apr 2013 and vote if Parliament is dissolved after that.
Meanwhile, in order not to jeopardize the smooth running of the elections and to maintain public confidence in the process, we request that the United Nations be invited to manage and run the coming general elections (GE 13). If a request is made now to the UN and the public is allowed to participate actively, there is enough time for elections to be run by May or Jun 2013. Therefore, we request that the Government go the full-term until 28thApr 2013.
We know you are sincere when you declared you want free and fair elections. We also know you are burdened with a recalcitrant EC who refuses to perform according to their Constitutional mandate. The solution is to dismiss them.
Former Election Commission (EC) chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on electoral reforms was necessary as Bersih 2.0's demands and proposals by the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reforms were not holistic enough. Both Bersih 2.0 and PSC did not provide solutions for structural problems within the electoral system. “(Holistic reform) means studying all the laws, not just one or two.
We agree with him that both the PSC recommendations and the BERSIH 2.0 Demands do not go far enough but it is not necessary for an RCI as the solution has been provided in the MERP submitted to you. We have spent the past year going through the Constitution, the Election Laws and the Regulations and have produced a proposal “The Malaysia Electoral Reform Programme (MERP)”. There are 204 proposed amendments to the laws and regulations that detail exactly what needs to be done for free and fair elections. Of course, it will need the Attorney General to tidy up the language to conform to legislative standards but the bulk of the work has been done and the rest can be tidied up within 2 months. The MERP can be grouped into 5 major Target Areas. They are:
- Institutional Reform
- Clean Electoral Roll
- Fair Elections Process
- Transparent Elections Roll-out
- Ethics & Integrity
These targets consist of 19 Goals:
Six (marked *) can be adopted and implemented immediately without need for new legislation.
1. Replace current EC with Independent
2. Adopt UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Minority & Indigenous People’s Rights, and incorporate into domestic law
7. Clean Electoral Roll
8. Campaign Period 28 days
12. UN-Managed Elections
17. Candidates are bound by Election Promises (We are currently drafting the Code of Conduct for Elections and should have it ready soon. http://bit.ly/Z9lYlq)
The above documents were submitted to your office from 20th to 23rd Dec 2012. It can also be found at our website tindakmalaysia.com – MERP. To make the necessary amendments to the Federal Constitution and to appoint a new and independent Election Commission, require the co-operation of both the Government and the Opposition. This can be done. All it needs is for both of you to say yes, to call a special Parliamentary session to pass all proposals in the MERP and for the Senate to endorse it.
We know you will face resistance from some of your MPs and Senators. To help you, we will start an online petition (YES to MERP for Free and Fair Elections!) for Malaysians to endorse the MERP so that it will give you added strength to push these reforms through. These reforms are far-ranging. It will need courage to pull it through. We believe you have it in abundance.
Time is running. We request a positive response by 8th Jan 2013. This will tell us you meant what you said on 9th Apr 2012 on ntv7.
Timeline: Can it be done in time?
This is a common concern, Dato Seri Najib. And the answer is: Yes!
Below are our suggestions:
We know the above programme is a bit tight but you can do it. At least, you can try.
On the other hand, silence on your part will also be an answer. It means that you do not support Free and Fair Elections.
Dato’ Seri Najib, you have an historic opportunity to return the power to the people and create a legacy that will launch Malaysia into the new millennium as a fully-functioning democracy?
Will you take up this challenge to transform the nation?
The decision lies with you.
For and on behalf of:
2. CPI - Centre for Policy Initiative
3. HINDRAF (Hindu Rights Action Force),
5. OKU Bangkit,
6. SABM (Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia)
7. SADIA (Sarawak Dayak Iban Association),
8. SCANE (Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment),
9. SEW - Sibu Election Watchers
10. SMSL (Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas),
11. Tindak Malaysia.