Monday, February 17, 2014

THE BERSIH 2.0 WAY FAIR ELECTORAL REFORM.


The Coalition for Clean and Fair elections (Bersih) is preparing to make the Election Commission’s (EC) redelineation exercise more “fair” by mobilising voters to file proper objections.

It pointed out that in the last national exercise to draw up electoral constituencies and parliamentary seats in 2003-2005, more than half of the objections were struck down as they didn't meet the conditions.

This time, Bersih's steering committee will launch a roadshow to show the people how easy it is for them to file these objections, akin to filing police reports against a crime.

"We have every intention of really forcing EC to give us a fair re-delineation.

"If we do not do anything, there is not much point in having a general elections. EC had it too easy all this time," Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah told reporters today at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).

Calling it a "bottom up" approach, the programme will be run by newly-formed Delineation Action and Research Team (Dart), which will pick and educate core teams nationwide.

These teams will then help mobilise more than 100 voters throughout the various constituencies, enough to object delineation exercises where it suspects malapropriation or gerrymandering to take place.

"We will dare say that it would determine the results of GE14," said Thomas Fann, Dart leader and Bersih's southern peninsula region vice-chairperson.

"We are empowering citizens to have a say on how boundaries are drawn."

'Mere political exercise'

By law, voters have 30 days to object once new constituencies map is revealed by the EC, before it goes to Parliament for stamp of approval.

However, Fann claimed that in the past, the redelineation exercise, carried out every eight years, have been a mere political exercise between the EC and a BN-controlled Parliament.

He said through the Dart roadshows starting March 9, Bersih would be able to rally the people to do something to block lopsided or unfair constituency mapping.

Previously, Bersih had organised three mammoth rallies - in 2007, 2011 and 2012 respectively - drawing tens of thousands of people wearing yellow T-shirts into the streets of Kuala Lumpur to push for electoral changes.

When new chairperson Maria (left) was asked if Dart then represents a softer approach or another “experiment”, she defended the move.

"It is not an experiment... it is something that all citizens must do," Maria said.

"We are all about pushing the boundaries for democracy. We have to accept that we are working against an unfair system."

Maria said that Bersih had also urged Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for a dialogue on electoral changes and were also campaigning for NGOs to join a petition to the Agong to sack and replace the current EC members.

Maria, who took over the helm from Ambiga Sreenevasan and A Samad Said on Nov 30 last year, had stressed that rallies are just one of many strategies used to push an agenda.

Meanwhile, Dart's campaign, which is to start in March, will focus on key states such as Selangor, Johor, Kedah, Perak, Pahang and Sabah and Sarawak - states which it considered more open to political manipulation. This will be done through Bersih's new regional vice-chairs.

Its team will prepare voters to study the new EC maps, and identify whether the constituencies have too many voters represented by a single MP, or if they were oddly drawn and had cut up the local community, for example.

'Not much resistance from Malaysians'

If the objections are properly filed within 30 days of the EC gazetting the new electoral boundaries, and if the objections have a strong basis, the EC has to hold an enquiry, Bersih resource person Wong Chin Huat said.

Wong, who is a political scientist from the Penang Institute, noted that in the peninsula and Labuan re-delineation exercise in 2003, 285 objections were filed and 142 were immediately struck down.

As for the rest, only five - filed by state or local governments - received a proper hearing. Re-delineation exercises for Sarawak were carried out in 2005.

"The EC outrageously malapportioned and gerrymandered constituencies in 2003 and 2005 because Malaysians did not put up much resistance.

"This time we will take up the enquiries, in the court of public opinion and, if necessary, the court of law," Wong said.

Urging all of Malaysia's over 13 million registered voters to back its initiative, Wong said that its studies show if boundaries were not fair, then even if 62 percent voted for a change of government in GE14, it may still not happen.

In GE13, Pakatan Rakyat - in its most united showing ever - raked in 53 percent of the popular votes compared with BN's 47 percent, but this did not translate into parliamentary seats. BN has held the majority in Parliament since Malaysia's independence in 1957.

The EC was to have carried out a redelineation exercise last year, but deferred this in light of the 13th general election which was held on May 5.

Details of Dart project and its roadshow will be published on the Bersih 2.0 website on Feb 22.

Malaysia Kini 17th Feb 2013.

2 comments:

Winston Yap said...

In fact, all these donkey's years, Malaysians may not even be aware of their rights!!!!
Let alone object to what is wrong!
So, perhaps this is a new awakening.
In fact, all angles and action that can further the cause of the opposition must be looked into.
Perhaps in this respect, a think tank to concentrate on such matters should be formed to shine a strong beam on the dark matters that besmirch this country!
However, bear in mind that time is of the essence.

hmatter said...

Ya Winston, time and may I act, money, is of the essence. We need money to host meeting and print materials and CDs.