Public Protests, Election Petitions and Parliamentary Pressure are all actions consistent with the ongoing struggle to create a more transparent, fairer and cleaner electoral system

Election Commission (EC) Deputy Chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar was quoted[1] as calling Pakatan Rakyat MPs hypocrites for protesting and not accepting the results of the 13th general election while at the same time agreeing to take part in the swearing in ceremony on Monday, the 24th of June, 2013.

I want to reassure the Deputy Chairman, as an elected representative who will be taking my oath on the 24th of June, 2013, and who also participated in yesterday’s, 22nd June, 2013 protest rally at Padang Merbok in Kuala Lumpur, that I see these as perfectly consistent actions that are not at all hypocritical. In fact, all the actions taken thus far by Pakatan Rakyat – organizing public protests, filing election petitions, making our voices heard in parliament - are all actions consistent in our desire to create a more transparent, fairer and cleaner electoral system.

Let me remind the Deputy Chairman that it was only after the public protests of the third Bersih rally on the 28th of April, 2011 that pressured Prime Minister Najib into establishing a Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform on the 15th of August, 2011.[2] Let me also remind the Deputy Chairman that it was only after three Bersih rallies that the Election Commission finally agreed to the use of indelible ink after cancelling its use at the last minute just before the 2008 General Election. Let me also remind the Deputy Chairman that it was only through public pressure by NGOs such as the Bersih coalition and the MyOverseasVote[3] initiative that the Election Commission finally allowed for overseas postal voting by Malaysians who are already on the electoral roll.

But our job to improve our electoral system has only just begun. There is still a long way to go. There is still an urgent need to address many shortcomings in the electoral system, many of which were covered in the Final Report from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform.[4] These include:

(i) A serious cleaning up of the electoral roll which includes investigating ICs which are improperly given out by the National Registration Department (NRD), many of them in Sabah, and other problems which have been highlighted by the Malaysian Electoral Roll Analysis Project (MERAP)[5]

(ii) Changing Section 9A of the Elections Act 1958 which states that the gazetted electoral roll cannot be challenged in court

(iii) Allowing Sabahans and Sarawakians who are working in Peninsular Malaysia and Peninsular Malaysians who are working in Sabah and Sarawak to cast their vote without having to fly home

(iv) Automatic Registration upon turning 21 years of age

(v) Redrawing constituency boundary lines and adding seats in accordance with the one-man-one-vote principle

(vi) Breaking up the EC into three separate agencies which are in charge of conducting elections, preparing and updating the electoral roll and the redrawing of boundary lines respectively

We in Pakatan Rakyat are sincere in wanting to improve our flawed electoral system. We are no hypocrites. The real hypocrites are those who say that they have done their jobs in running a clean, fair and competent election process but refuses to take responsibility for using indelible ink which washes off after a few hours. The real hypocrites are those who say that the Malaysian electoral roll is the ‘cleanest in the world’[6] when in fact examples of voters who cannot be traced to their voting addresses and voters who have been moved from one constituency to another without their knowledge are plentiful. The real hypocrites are those who say that past re-delineation exercises have been done transparently and fairly when in fact they have always been done in BN’s favour and in violation of even the EC’s own state principles and guidelines. The real hypocrites are those who want more power to enforce election laws and regulations but have not demonstrated any evidence of using what existing power they have in an impartial manner.

The Pakatan Rakyat rally at Padang Merbok yesterday was organized to demonstrate our lack of confidence in the Election Commission and to demand for the resignation of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of the EC as well as the five other members of the Commission over the flawed conduct of the 13th general election. The Elections Petitions which have been filed by Pakatan Rakyat will also demonstrate other flaws and shortcomings in the conduct of elections during the 13th General Election in specific seats. And most, if not all, of the Pakatan Rakyat MPs will voice out our lack of confidence in the current Election Commission especially in its ability to be impartial and fair in conducting the upcoming re-delineation exercise.

An Election Commission that fails to enjoy public confidence, as per Article 114 (2) of the Federal Constitution, should resign instead of being in denial and worst yet, accuse others who want to create a more transparent, fairer and cleaner electoral system of being hypocrites.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming DAP Election Strategist & MP for Serdang