Party manifestos must pledge royal commission of inquiries into electoral system, local elections

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Source: freemalaysiatoday.com

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) calls upon all political parties to commit to appointing two royal commissions of inquiry on Malaysia’s electoral system and local elections if they win power.

Bersih 2.0 stresses, regardless whichever parties and coalitions win, Malaysian politics will continue to be plagued by communalism and corruption, if how our federal, state and local governments are put in their place is not fundamentally reformed.

Malaysians need to deliberate and debate on concrete alternatives that must be in place, so that the new system can have the widest possible acceptability and legitimacy. This makes royal commissions of inquiry the best way to ensure an inclusive national conversation before any changes.

If a national consensus is reached, the proposed changes can then be introduced before the general election after next, ie due in 2023. Otherwise, the proposals can be decided in the that election as voters can choose to support parties which support or oppose the changes.

As the establishment of such royal commissions is not the same as imposing change abruptly, any refusal to do so would mean a party is totally against reforms to our electoral system and local governments. Voters must use their votes to pressure parties into committing to these two royal commissions.

Bersih 2.0 would like to suggest the concrete scope of these two proposed royal commissions and call upon all pro-democracy groups and individual citizens to deepen the discussion.

The first royal commission of inquiry should study the functioning of elections and parties, which should include:

  • an electoral system that would promote vote-seat proportionality and political inclusion of all communities and segments in Malaysia
  • electoral rolls, automatic voter registration and absentee voting
  • funding of party operations and election campaigns
  • campaigns and media freedom during and off-election
  • the concept of a caretaker government and administrative neutrality
  • reforms to the Electoral Commission
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The Electoral Commission’s blatantly unconstitutional acts – from the extremely partisan boundary changes review that was rushed to be tabled in Parliament, to the arbitrary extension of the postal and advanced voting facility, to the inclusion of military voters in uncompletes barracks – suggest the entire system is broken and has become a national threat under seven ex-senior civil servants (who sit as commissioners in the Electoral Commission) without any sense of integrity and shame.

The second royal commission of inquiry should study the consolidation and democratisation of our local governments, 50 years after the Athi-Nahappan Commission, which must include:

  • an audit on the ninth schedule of the Federal Constitution to propose a reasonable division of power between federal, state and local governments, to ensure viability and relevance of state governments after introduction of local elections
  • the consolidation of local authorities and district offices into one body with commensurate administrative, legislative and financial powers
  • an electoral system and suffrage for local elections to ensure vote-seat proportionality and political inclusion of all communities and segments in Malaysia.

It has been 10 years since the 2008 political tsunami in Malaysia. That so little discussion on changes to the electoral system change and local elections took place over the past 10 years is our collective failure and must not be allowed to persist for another decade.

Satukan tenaga, kalahkan penipuan

Bersih 2.0 steering committee

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