Malaysia: More rallies promised if Malaysia ignores demands for electoral reform | Australia Network News

The co-chair of Malaysia’s Bersih movement has promised another street rally if the government ignores the peoples’ demand for electoral reform. Speaking to Radio Australia’s Asia Pacific, Ambiga Sreenevasan says the Election Commission must clean up its electoral rolls before proceeding with its delineation of parliamentary and state constituency boundaries. The states of Sabah and Sarawak will be among those affected by the changes. She says the movement is very worried about the Electoral Commission’s plans. “What the election commission is planning to do, and they are pushing on ahead as I understand it, is to do the re-delineation process based on the electoral role which was used in the May elections. “That would be wholly unacceptable.”

Malaysia: Premier Revamps Election Commission After Disputed Poll | Bloomberg

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced measures to overhaul the election commission after the ruling coalition retained power in a vote that was marred by fraud allegations. An independent bipartisan parliamentary committee of government and opposition members will oversee the commission to “strengthen public confidence” in it, Najib said today in a statement in the administrative capital of Putrajaya, near Kuala Lumpur. Najib’s Barisan Nasional alliance won 133 seats in the 222-member Parliament in the May 5 election to extend its 55-year rule over the Southeast Asian nation. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has disputed the outcome and said May 6 that his Pakatan Rakyat group would challenge some of the results because of fraud claims.

Malaysia: Situating Malaysia’s Thirteenth General Election: Not All About the Outcome | CFR

If all goes according to plan, election-watchers of all sorts will be thick on the ground for Malaysia’s upcoming thirteenth general elections. Admittedly, that plan is dependent upon rounding up and training an extraordinary number of volunteers, and doubtless will be forced to exclude the least accessible, but purportedly most watch-worthy districts. But what tends to get lost in the tea leaf-reading and data-crunching of this long-awaited showdown is the why behind such widespread interest in process and participation, which extends well beyond the polls themselves. Malaysia has seen heightened mobilization since 2008, if not since Reformasi in the late 1990s—part of why the unusually prolonged run-up to the polls has seemed so, well, long. This more sustained mobilization represents a true trend toward “democratization” in Malaysia, beyond the mere act of voting.

Malaysia: Lawmakers Recommend Changes to Malaysian Electoral System |

A parliamentary committee recommended a series of changes to the Malaysian electoral system on Tuesday, but opposition groups and activists said they did not go far enough to ensure a level playing field for elections widely expected later this year. The committee, which consisted of five members of the governing coalition, three opposition members and one independent, was set up last year by Prime Minister Najib Razak following a rally that brought tens of thousands of people into the streets calling for greater transparency and fairness in elections. Its report contained 22 proposals, including steps to ensure that the electoral rolls list only legitimate voters, that political candidates have equal access to the news media and that the Election Commission function independently of partisan politics. The lower house adopted the report later in the day.

Malaysia: Malaysia urged to roll out reforms before polls | Channel NewsAsia

Malaysia’s electoral reform group Bersih wants Prime Minister Najib Razak to hold off polls until all proposed reforms have been implemented. The coalition of 62 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also vows to return to the streets, if the election commission fails to clean up the electoral roll. This comes after a government report showed thousands of cases of multiple voters being registered under the same addresses. Amid swirling rumours of a general election in June this year, Prime Minister Najib faces renewed pressure to deliver on his promise for electoral reform. This, especially after a state-run agency’s report revealed more than 11,000 cases where multiple voters were registered under the same address nationwide. Of these, 820 cases had more than 100 voters registered under a single address.

Malaysia: Knives out for Malaysia’s Najib | Asia Times

Just over a month after a large rally in Kuala Lumpur to demand clean and fair elections rattled Malaysia’s ruling elite, Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced that a bipartisan parliamentary select committee will be set up to review the electoral system. The move comes as Najib’s government faces rising pressures on several political fronts, including a speculated challenge to his leadership from inside his own party.

Najib’s announcement has been interpreted as an attempt to placate disquiet about the integrity of the electoral process before the next general election, which must be held before mid-2013, and to prevent any repeat protest rally to press home the demands. The political opposition has claimed elections are structurally set up to favor the long-ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) and Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Malaysia: Election Commission explains why electoral reform is not in its hands | Malaysia Star

The much-anticipated discourse between the Election Commission and Bersih 2.0 organisers was marred by booing from the emotionally-strung crowd. Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar was interrupted so many times that he could not fully explain his answers to the questions posed during the dialogue Tuesday.

At one point, the crowd chanted that the “EC has no power” as Wan Ahmad explained that the commission had no power to amend the election laws because this was under the purview of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“The commission is just an election management body and not an enforcement agency. We don’t have investigators. We don’t have the power of arrest as the police do,” said Wan Ahmad during his opening remarks.

Malaysia: Ethics and the Election Commission | Free Malaysia Today

A key member of Bersih 2.0′s steering committee said he does not trust the biometric voting system proposed by Election Commission (EC) because of the latter’s poor reputation.

Wong Chin Huat said: “I don’t trust the biometric system because I don’t believe the EC has the competence and integrity to prevent rigging and other abuses.

“Does the EC have the competency to maintain the system and also to detect or eliminate hacking by an external party?” asked Chin Huat.

Malaysia: NGOs in the Election Commission? | Free Malaysia Today

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Abdul Aziz said NGOs can participate in the Election Commission (EC) but it comes with a lot of conditions attached. First, it was up to the EC to decide if civil society groups, which want to become the EC’s check and balance, are allowed to partake in its decision-making process.

Nazri says the although the EC is an independent body, the NGOs must negotiate with the government to participate in the commission. And the final caveat – if they want to negotiate with the government, they must promise that there will be no more street demonstrations.

Malaysia: Electoral Reformers Plan Next Steps After Protest Crackdown | VoA News

The organizers of Saturday’s massive demonstration in Malaysia, the largest such protest criticizing the government in years, are demanding authorities release six people still in detention and respond to their list of grievances. Organizers are not planning more street protests at this time.

The fallout from the Bersih electoral reform rallies which attracted tens of thousands of people onto the streets of the capital has not diminished, with the government defending the actions of its police force and arguing the movement does not enjoy any popular support.

Lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan, who is president of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections which organized the Bersih rallies, says there is no need for more rallies until authorities address their concerns about improving electoral transparency.

Malaysia: Poll activists call for royal commission | Straits Times

Malaysian activists who staged a mass rally for poll reforms called on Tuesday for a royal probe into the electoral system after the clampdown on their weekend protest.

Bersih 2.0, a coalition of non-governmental organisations, said it would not abandon its campaign, with Prime Minister Najib Razak widely expected to call elections by early next year. The opposition say voting favours the Barisan Nasional coalition, who have ruled Malaysia for half a century but saw their majority slashed in the previous general election, in 2008.

Malaysia: Malaysian authorities crack down on protesters demanding free and fair elections |

Malaysian authorities cracked down on protesters demanding free and fair elections Saturday, firing tear gas and arresting more than 1,6000 people. Some 1,667 people had been arrested as of early evening, according to the Royal Malaysia Police, with 16 children among them. Protest organizers said at a news conference earlier in the day that about 400 had been detained.
By Saturday night, police said the crowds had been dispersed.

The government said the protest, organized by a loose coalition of opposition groups known as Bersih 2.0, was illegal. It had already declared Bersih an illegal organization and police said anyone found with Bersih-related materials, such as yellow T-shirts, could be arrested.

“Malaysians of all walks of life overcame the oppressive acts of the police to come out peacefully and in incredibly large numbers to show their love for their country and for the principles of justice,” the coalition said on its website.

Malaysia: Malaysia braces for pro-democracy street protests in Kuala Lumpur | The Guardian

Malaysia is bracing for an Arab spring-style stand-off on Saturday, when activists angry at “dirty politics” are expected to rally in Kuala Lumpur despite draconian government efforts to nip the movement in the bud.

Tensions have mounted in this normally staid state, often called “Moderate Malaysia”, after a group of 62 non-governmental organisations known locally as Bersih 2.0 proposed a peaceful protest, dubbed the “Walk for Democracy”, against alleged vote-rigging and other electoral abuses in a recent state election.

But the government last week declared Bersih – which means “clean” in Malay – illegal, and has warned that anyone wearing the yellow colours of protest will be detained. It has already arrested more than 200 supporters and organisers on charges ranging from the promotion of “illegal assembly” to “waging war against the king”. Some are being held for an indefinite period without trial.