The head of the NGO for clean, free and fair elections signed the Declaration in her personal capacity.
KUALA LUMPUR: Bersih 2.0, the NGO for clean, free and fair elections, has reiterated the need for free and fair elections as well as institutional reforms.
“It’s presently the most important agenda and cannot be compromised,” said Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee Chairman Maria Chin Abdullah in a statement.
“Beyond the Declaration, initiated by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, there must be strong political will and efforts to implement reforms in the interest of all Malaysians.”
Before signing the Declaration, disclosed Chin, she consulted with the Bersih 2.0 Steering Committee and received their support to sign the Declaration in her personal capacity. “This does not equate to a representation of Bersih 2.0 or the endorsing NGOs.”
“We believe that more time was needed to consult and discuss with our NGO peers and partners. The invitation to sign the Declaration was received three days ago.”
Chin, nevertheless, hastened to add that she was glad to be part of Mahathir’s Declaration that was presented on Friday.
“Again, this was done in my personal capacity as an activist and concerned citizen of Malaysia because the invitation was on the basis of individuals.”
Subsequent to the signing, added Chin, Bersih 2.0 will undertake programmes to democratize the Declaration by consulting and discussing further with the endorsing NGOs and supporters.
The strength of the Declaration was in its demand for institutional reforms, because this was the only way to ensure that the interest and rights of all Malaysians will be protected, pointed out Chin.
The institutional reform points in the Declaration were in line with what Bersih 2.0, NGOs, and Malaysians have been demanding for many years, she agreed.
Briefly, she said, these reforms include separation of powers between the executive, legislative, and judiciary; restoring the integrity of institutions such as the judiciary, Parliament, AG’s Chambers, MACC, and PAC; and repealing laws and agreements that are against human rights and the Federal Constitution.
The reforms in the Declaration are also based upon the need to ensure a free and fair election process, including ensuring that the Election Commission was independent, said Chin. “I reiterate that clean, free and fair elections and institutional reforms must come together.
“They are non-negotiable. There can be no compromise on this.”
In fact, she said, the demands in the Declaration are similar to the institutional demands by the previous Bersih 4 rally in August 2015, which was attended by over 500,000 Malaysians.
“I am pleased the demands by Bersih 2.0 are being accepted by a wider range of groups across the political divide.”
“Bersih 2.0 has always held and I strongly believe in working with all parties that support democratic reform.”