Amid rumours of snap polls…

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File photograph: Malay Mail Online

Critics say the opposition must get its act together while Bersih 2.0 demands a stop to attempts at muzzling the Bar Council. Chris Chong writes.

Recently, we have been hearing rumours of the possibility of a snap poll as early as March next year. While the grapevine keeps grinding out rumours about this, we need to stay focused on the deficiencies of the electoral system.

Such deficiencies have been discussed in Aliran’s previous posts as well as in other websites. I’ll not dwell on this except to say that the dominance of the ruling party in the system has made it nigh impossible for a level playing field, particularly during the campaigning period.

Nonetheless, as Turtle Shell argued, the opposition can learn some lessons from the Hong Kong polls campaign methods to help level some of the disadvantages they face.

Speaking of snap polls, Roland Benjamin wrote that the opposition parties must get their act together as a coalition rather than remain as a pact of convenience that is aimed only at dislodging Barisan Nasional from power.

He pointed out that the opposition must work from a common understanding of the Constitution and the principles of good governance and democracy. It is only then that they can be a meaningful opposition coalition based on principles rather than a meeting of interests. You can read his article here.

Finally, Bersih 2.0 is greatly alarmed by the proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act 1976, in particular the proposal to have two members of the Malaysian Bar Council appointed by the federal government and the changes to the Bar Council’s election processes.

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This proposed amendment appears to be an attempt to muzzle the Bar Council, which has spoken up against abuse of power. Bersih 2.0 stressed that such an attempt is an attack on democracy itself and is unwarranted and unwelcome.

Bersih 2.0 also demanded that the proposed amendments be withdrawn and the government turn its focus to strengthening public institutions instead of increasingly concentrating power in the hands of the executive.

Chris Chong
Co-editor, Aliran newsletter
7 September 2016

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