It is in public interest to pursue justice for electoral misconduct

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The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) is disappointed with the decision of the tribunal panel not to proceed with the hearing to hear allegations of misconducts by six former Electoral Commission members.

It is our view that the decision sends the wrong message and sets a precedent – that public officials entrusted to safeguard public interests and uphold the Federal Constitution can escape accountability and justice simply by resigning from their posts before actions can be taken.

If the tribunal had decided to proceed, the panel and the public would have had the opportunity to hear evidence of how these Electoral Commission members committed gross electoral misconduct and violations of the Federal Constitution that denied Malaysians a free and fair general election last year. Instead, the six former commissioners have not only escaped justice but will continue to enjoy financial benefits by their early retirement.

The fact that the decision of the panel was a 3-2 decision showed that the matter is not academic and there is strong legal basis to proceed. Matters such as elections are of great public interest; the decision should have been to proceed. Had it proceeded we would have received legal guidance from the learned judges on a number of electoral issues such as malapportionment and gerrymandering and many other areas of electoral misconduct.

Bersih 2.0 disagrees with the view of panel chairman Steve Shim that it is not in the public and national interest to spend so much time, energy and expense merely to seek the removal of the six officers when they have already removed themselves.

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When it comes to possible gross electoral fraud, the matter is of both public and national interest, and truth and justice cannot be put aside for expediency.

Bersih 2.0 urges the government to amend Article 114 to clearly state that resignation from a position does not protect a person from any future investigation or consequences of misconduct while in office.

We will also seek legal opinions on pursuing other avenues to hold accountable all previous Electoral Commission members, including former chairman Hashim Abdullah, for their alleged misconduct. This may include a call for a royal commission of inquiry into electoral misconducts during the 2018 general election.

Nonetheless, for now, Bersih 2.0 wishes to thank the prime minister, the attorney general and lawyers who have deemed the list of complaints submitted by us back in August 2018 worthy of merit and took it up.

Bersih 2.0 will continue to hold public officials to account, especially those involved in our electoral process and for safeguarding our democracy to the highest standard of conduct and professionalism befitting their office. We will not hesitate to call for action against those who are delinquent in the discharge of their duties.

Steering committee of Bersih 2.0

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