January 17, 2011
BERSIH 2.0 urges the Election Commission to withdraw its proposal of proxy voting, warning that all hell may break loose when proxy voting is abused, threatening even the legitimacy of the next government.
BERSIH 2.0 will organise a public forum later this month on absentee voting reform, which is the real solution to help address the issue of absentee voters. The coalition hopes EC Chairperson or his representative will participate as a panelist to respond to the public’s concerns.
BERSIH 2.0 stresses that proxy voting is highly vulnerable for democratizing countries like Malaysia because it may succumb to vote buying or coercion, resulting in disenfranchisement. Bosses may ask employees to sign away their voting rights.
So will superiors their subordinates, husbands their wives (or vice versa) and parents their children. In the most absurd scenario, loan sharks (Ah Longs) may even force every of their debtors to be registered as voters and then sign away their ballots, which can then be traded to political parties.
BERSIH 2.0 warns that, widespread disenfranchisement will erode the legitimacy of the new government – whichever parties are elected – and land the nation into political chaos. There are already enough allegations of bosses controlling employees’ voting in East Malaysia and under the current postal voting system, coerced proxy voting in military barracks and police stations.
BERSIH 2.0 says that the way to help address the issue of absentee voters is to make postal voting available to all and mandatory to none. All voters with reasonable grounds to be away from their constituency on polling day should be allowed to vote by postal ballots, provided they apply in advance, say, three weeks before polling day.
Under the current system, postal voting is imposed on military and police voters, but available as an option to only overseas bureaucrats and students and election officials.
BERSIH 2.0 expresses regret that the EC plans to propose 30 changes to the electoral process to the Cabinet without consulting civil society and political parties. Nothing was raised in BERSIH 2.0′s meeting with the EC last November.
BERSIH also criticizes the EC, whose independence is provided for by the Federal Constitution, for reducing itself to a subordinate body of the Cabinet by seeking the latter’s permission for any changes. It has failed to fulfill its constitutional mandate and, therefore, not gain public confidence.
Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee
SC members — Wong Chin Huat @ 019 350 2823 or Maria Chin Abdullah @ 013 342 2931