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

Is the July 9 illegal rally apolitical?

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 (Bernama) — Is the illegal rally organised by a group of agitators, scheduled for July 9, really apolitical?

If so, the question arises why so many Opposition party members are present among the rally’s organisers. Also, why are these parties making the effort to bring their supporters onto the streets for this rally?

Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) de-facto leader, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, reportedly told members that he would ask former Bar Council president Datuk S. Ambiga to cancel the rally if the Government met Bersih’s demands.

This was denied, the following day, by Ambiga, who is organising chief of the rally. Moreover, Anwar, too, later said he was misquoted by the Press.

While some might believe that Anwar is not involved with the rally, there are skeptics. Political analyst Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said this move was being seen as an attempt at damage control, to prevent public opinion from going against PKR, and its suspected involvement with the rally.

Penang Gerakan legal and human rights bureau head Baljit Singh says it will be interesting to watch who would stand by Ambiga when she submits the memorandum to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong.

He said Anwar’s statement that he could speak to Ambiga to cancel the rally created the perception that the Opposition pact, PKR-DAP-PAS, had influence over Ambiga.

Makkal Sakti, whose members took part in the Hindraf illegal rally in 2007, and tried to launch its own anti-Interlok campaign early this year, failed to win the support of enough people.

“It would be totally naive to say that Pakatan was not behind the rally,” said a Hindraf grassroots leader who did not wish to be identified.

He said PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu had pledged that about 100,000 PAS supporters would join the illegal rally, referring to it as ‘walk for democracy’. The PAS president, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, too, has ordered all its members (numbering nearly one million) to join the rally.

He cited the instance of a Bar Council dinner in 2009, when Ambiga was president. Ambiga had hosted it at a hotel, and while it was reportedly a Bar Council function, politicians from the Opposition were invited, as well.

“Subsequently, it was revealed that the government had paid for the dinner. Why hold the dinner under the Bar Council, without announcing that the government sponsored the event,?” asked Wee. — BERNAMA

Malaysians should know who Datuk Ambiga is

KUALA LUMPUR, 25 Jun (Bernama) — Analysts are asking Malays to know who it is that is asking them to take part in an illegal assembly on July 9.

They said that Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, the former Bar Council president planning to lead the demonstration, has a history of provoking Muslims.

They noted that she defended apostate Lina Joy, and as Bar Council president accepted a memorandum on the formation of an inter-faith commission, which made 14 demands that in effect questioned the position of Islam as the official religion and contradicted the constitution.

Despite objections from Muslims, she held a forum on an article in the constitution concerning syariah law.

Now, she is planning a demonstration in defiance of the law which she expects the Malays to join in droves, the analysts said.

Analyst Datin Paduka Prof Dr Ramlah Adam of  Universiti Teknologi Mara wonders how Malays can want to have anything to do with someone who is so openly against their interests.

“As a lawyer, Ambiga knows better than most that an  assembly  without a police permit is illegal. I don’t understand why she is planning to go ahead with it despite protests from various groups,” Ramlah said.

Other observers question the independence and motive of Ambiga, who is chairman of the Coalition for Free and Fair elections.
If elections in the country were not free, they said, how could the opposition have won six states in the last polls?

In any case, Ambiga could express any dissatisfaction that she might have with the Election Commission through the media instead of having an illegal assembly that could lead to clashes, they said.

Political observer Prof Datuk Dr Zainal Kling of the Sultan Idris Teaching University said the leaders of the planned assembly were fighting the cause of political parties which were themselves not clean.

“They should demonstrate as a political party rather than a non-governmental organisation. Then people will know what their real objectives are,” he said.

Zainal said their objectives had something to do with “the chaos in the opposition, in PKR which is not clean, in DAP which is autocratic and PAS which has abandoned its original struggle”.

He said the planned assembly was to hide the dirtiness of opposition parties trying to give Malaysia a bad image.

Zainal said the opposition parties were trying to create the kind of chaos they see in several countries which they hope to exploit to gain power. — BERNAMA