Bersih wants RCIs on local elections, EC reform in manifestos

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Source: Free Malaysia Today

It says this would show commitment by any party or coalition to ensure electoral reform after GE14.

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Bersih says voters must use their votes to pressure parties into committing to the two RCIs. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has called on all political parties to include the establishment of Royal Commissions of Inquiry (RCIs) on local government elections and electoral reform as part of their manifestos for the 14th general election (GE14).

In a statement by the Bersih steering committee yesterday, the coalition said parties could no longer ignore the two issues.

“The 2008 political tsunami would be 10 years old tomorrow. However, the little discussion on local elections and changing the electoral system in the past 10 years is our collective failure and must not be allowed to persist for another decade.

“Regardless of which parties and coalition win, the country will continue to be plagued by communalism and corruption if how our federal, state and local governments are put in place is not fundamentally reformed.”

It said an RCI would be the best way to ensure an inclusive national conversation before any changes take place.

“This will ensure the new system has the widest possible acceptability and legitimacy.”

The electoral watchdog said it was imperative for this to be done sooner rather than later, in order for the proposed changes to be introduced before the 15th general election.

“Also, as the establishing of RCIs are not the same as imposing change abruptly, refusal to do so means 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 RCIs.”

According to Bersih, the first RCI should study the function of elections and parties, which covers among others a reform of the Election Commission (EC), vote-seat proportionality, automatic voter registration, political funding, election campaigns, and media freedom.

“The EC’s blatantly unconstitutional acts, from the extremely partisan delineation review now being rushed to be tabled in Parliament, to the arbitrary extension of postal and advanced voting facility, to the inclusion of military voters in uncompleted barracks, suggest the entire system is broken.

“By that token, the EC has become a national threat under seven ex-senior civil servants (who sit as commissioners in the EC) without any sense of integrity and shame.”

It said the second RCI should study the consolidation and democratisation of local governments, starting with the holding of local government elections.

“There should also be an audit on the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution to propose a reasonable division of power between federal, state and local governments.

“Local authorities and district offices should also be merged into one body with commensurate administrative, legislative and financial powers,” Bersih said.