Let’s talk, EC appeals to Bersih

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 (Bernama) — The Election Commission (EC) has made a final appeal to the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) to call off its planned illegal street demonstration on July 9 and negotiate on the eight demands it is seeking.

EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said as a body represented by level-headed members of society, Bersih should abandon the plan due to the involvement of political parties.

“I am appealing to Datuk S. Ambiga (Bersih chairman) for the last time. The negotiation door is still open. The EC has never shunned Bersih from discussing the eight demands made but we were then busy preparing for the Sarawak state election in April,” he said at
a forum entitled “Bersih’s Demands-What is EC’s Explanation” organised by the Institute of Mind Development here today.

He said the planned demonstration had deviated from its original objective and was being turned into a political rally with thousands of supporters from the opposition ready to join the fray.

Wan Ahmad said he regretted that despite the police not issuing a permit and advising Bersih to call off the plan, Ambiga let herself to be exploited by political parties by planning to go ahead with the illegal assembly.

“Political parties are taking advantage of Bersih’s foray. So I advise Ambiga to steer clear of political parties. If you want to get involved with political parties or fight for a political agenda, then register Bersih as a political party and contest in elections,” he
said.

He said the EC had met Bersih for three hours in November last year, during which it (Bersih) submitted 17 recommendations and each member was given the opportunity to speak.

“We enlightened them on what we could and could not do, what is being studied, and what amendments to legislations and the constitution were necessary. We told them that everything that was being done would take time and not overnight, not even in one month,” said Wan Ahmad.

Wan Ahmad said Ambiga had sought a meeting with the EC through a letter in January, in which she reduced the 17 proposals to eight.

He said the EC was looking forward to have a meeting with Bersih but it had to be put on hold as it was busy preparing for the Sarawak state election.

However, Wan Ahmad said, he was surprised and regretted that Bersih had turned the eight proposals into demands and was adamant on going ahead with the rally, regardless of what would happen.

“Now Bersih is no longer ‘bersih’ (clean). It has become so entangled. Why is Ambiga in such a hurry and defying police’s orders?” he asked.

He said five of the eight demands touched on the EC’s function, but it was not possible to implement them during the Sarawak state election as they involved amendments to the Constitution and several acts of law.

He conceded that certain demands could be met before the next general elections although the date for had yet to be fixed.

The eight demands are cleaning up the electoral list, reforming the voting system, using indelible ink, setting the campaign period to at least 21 days, free and fair media access, strengthening public institutions, curtailing corrupt practices and combating dirty politics.

On allegations of existence of phantom voters, Wan Ahmad said after 2002, the electoral roll was updated and adopted for the 2004 and 2008 general elections.

He described as baseless the opposition’s claim that there had been cases of electors casting votes twice as it would be difficult to cheat due to the fact that the MyKad identity document contained 12 digits.

The Mykad could not be easily abused unless one used a fake identity card, he added. — BERNAMA

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