Pi mai pi mai tang tu – same old, same old

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The setting up of a bipartisan parliamentary special select committee to oversee the Election Commission amounts to nothing but a cosmetic makeover, says Steven Sim.

We want clean and fair elections!
We want clean and fair elections!

Prime Minister Najib Razak recently announced that the Election Commission (EC) will be placed under the supervision of a bipartisan parliamentary special select committee.

On the one hand, this is a clear admission of the Prime Minister of the glaring weakness of the EC – the lack of accountability of the body On the other, the Prime Minister’s plan for reform is itself problematic.

What I fear is that the move to put the EC under the so-called bipartisan parliamentary special select committee will only go on to legimitise the dirty tactics of Umno through the EC in the future. This is not reform but a mere cosmetic makeover.

We learn from our experiences. In 2012, after Bersih 2.0, opposition MPs were appointed to the bipartisan Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Electoral Reform. It was heralded as a progressive measure on the part of Najib Razak and Barisan Nasional.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. The voices of the opposition members were silenced. The report of the special select committee was adopted in parliament without debate and its opposition members were not allowed to table alongside it a minority report.

In the end, only one out of the eight demands by Bersih was passed; the use of indelible ink, which, alas, as most of us found out in the last general election, was not indelible after all.

This is the classic example of the French saying, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, the more it changes, the more it stays the same. Up north here in Penang, we have a local equivalent. We say, pi mai pi mai tang tu – going everywhere but ending up going nowhere.

If the Prime Minister is sincere in reforming the electoral system, he should start with the substantial things – not play with a cosmetic makeover to deceive the people. He should immediately implement the three demands of Bersih 3.0, i.e.

(1) implement the eight demands of Bersih 2.0,

(2) the resignation of the commissioners of the EC due to the loss of confidence of the people in the body, and

(3) implement provisions to allow independent foreign election observers.

I attach below a copy of my press statement issued on this matter. Please help to spread this to create more awareness. We need to continue to pressure the government to implement deeper structural reform in the electoral system to ensure that our democracy is being protected.

Press statement

Jawatankuasa terpilih khas tidak berupaya bawa pembaharuan dan hanya akan menghalalkan taktik Umno-BN.

Perdana Menteri Najib Razak telah mengumumkan bahawa Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR) bakal diletakkan di bawah kawal selia jawatankuasa terpilih khas Parlimen. Saya berpendapat ini merupakan taktik terbaru Umno-BN untuk menghalalkan sebarang tindakan SPR bagi mengekalkan kuasa mereka.

Jika Perdana Menteri betul-betul ikhlas untuk melaksanakan pembaharuan sistem pilihan raya, saya menyeru beliau segera melaksanakan tuntutan Bersih 3.0, iaitu:

1) melaksanakan lapan tuntutan Bersih 2.0,

2) pimpinan SPR meletak jawatan segera kerana kehilangan keyakinan rakyat terhadap SPR dan

3) membenarkan pemantau antarabangsa bebas untuk memantau pilihan raya.

Jika ini tidak dilaksanakan terlebih dahulu, maka sebarang perubahan hanyalah perubahan kosmetik dan bakal menjadi satu lagi projek penipuan Barisan National.

Pengalaman kita dalam Jawatankuasa Terpilih Khas Parlimen untuk Penambahbaikan Pilihan Raya April 2012 menunjukkan bahawa mekanisme ini dengan sendirinya tidak mampu untuk membawa sebarang perubahan yang ketara.

Bukan sahaja tiada debat dibenarkan sebelum penerimaan laporan tersebut malah Parlimen tidak membenarkan laporan minoriti diterbitkan bersama. Suara Pakatan Rakyat yang ternyata mendapat sokongan majoriti rakyat Malaysia di PRU13 tidak diberi perhatian.

Akhirnya hanya satu daripada lapan tuntutan Bersih 2.0 dilaksanakan iaitu penggunaan dakwat kekal, dan seperti yang sedia maklum dari ribuan aduan serta laporan-laporan polis yang dibuat, dakwat kekal pun sebenarnya tidak kekal.

Steven Sim Chee Keong ialah Ahli Parlimen Bukit Mertajam dan Pengarah Pendidikan Politik Kebangsaan DAPSY

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The EC executives(especially the deputy) do not perform like professionals and not impartial and whatever they done,seems to be protecting the ruling party.
This can be understood since they are appointed by the PM(who is ultimately the boss) and who will dare to go against the boss lest your ricebowl is broken.
So to be effective as an independent body,the EC executives to be appointed must be approved by two-third of the members of the parliament and accountable to the parliament.