- The claim of weaknesses and defects in the conduct of elections - Since Bersih has had discussions with Election Commission, it should continue to talk to that body. The Chairman of the Commission is prepared to dialogue. Bersih, in turn, should respond positively.
- The automatic registration of voters are beyond the purview of the Elections Commission. They would require legislative approval. If Bersih cannot persuade the Barisan Nasional (BN) government to introduce new electoral laws, has it succeeded in getting Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs to table a private member’s bill on any of the electoral reforms it is now demanding?
- The actual conduct of elections in Malaysia since 1959, from the maintenance of electoral rolls to safeguardingthe integrity of the ballot paper, has been largely fair and just---- given that no electoral system in the world is totally devoid of flaws
- If Bersih is sincere about rectifying the alleged misuse of state facilities for campaign purposes and the biased role of the mainstream media, the political parties who are in the forefront of this coalition, should set the example in the states which are under PR rule by ensuring that state facilities are not misused in any election or by-election. And yet, in by-elections in Selangor, Penang and Kedah, it is alleged that the state government had deployed some of the resources of the state, directly and indirectly, for their campaigns. Similarly, if Bersih wants equitable access to BNinclined print and electronic media, it should also encourage opposition oriented online newspapers to be fair and balanced in their coverage and analysis of political issues.
- For all the shortcomings in its electoral system, Malaysia is one of the few countries in the Global South that has held regular elections participated by parties with totally divergent ideologies ever since Independence in 1957.It is equally significant that these elections have been completely free of violence--- which is a rarity in the Global South
- There is no denying that with three organisations asserting their determination to hold rallies and marches without police permit, the political temperature has increased by a few degrees. In the first Bersih demonstration on November 10 2007, a number of people were injured. There were also similar casualties in the Hindraf demonstration on November 25 in the same year. In almost all the reformasi demonstrations from September 1998 to the middle of 2000, individuals and some police personnel were hurt.
- The Western media would be there to dramatise the event, especially since both the de facto and de jure leaders of Bersih --- Anwar Ibrahim and Ambiga Sreenivasan --- have such close ties to the Western media. It would be a terrible travesty of justice since the Malaysian situation bears no comparison to Mubarak’s Egypt or to those autocratic Arab monarchies and republics
- How the proposed July 9 rally and counter rallies will impact upon taxi drivers, traders, shoppers and the general public is yet another factor that deserves our attention. In previous demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur, people in various walks of life have had to pay the price.
- It is quite conceivable that July 9 will reinforce yet another unhealthy development which has become more and more obvious in the last two years.
The ulterior motives
- There are also ulterior motives behind the Bersih plan that any reasonable person would probe. They were not leading to any democratic awakening among the masses.
- A number of our activists were arrested, some under the ISA. Most of all, I could see that the demonstrations instigated by Anwar from behind prison walls served only one purpose: to keep him in the limelight, and to get him out of prison.
- Anwar’s ulterior motive is even more brazen today. He desperately wants to become Prime Minister, and will resort to any means to achieve his ambition. He is hoping that July 9 will help him overcome some of the obstacles he now faces and give him the boost that he needs. A massive mobilisation of his supporters and fence-sitters on July 9, he thinks, will divert attention from his sodomy trial which begins later in the month and from his sex-video scandal. At the same time, he is expecting the demonstration to create the sort of momentum that will erode support for the BN and shore up his own position. If this impresses his allies and endorsersin some Western capitals they may even give him stronger backing to achieve “a regime change”.
- Apart from Anwar’s own party, both his PR partners, the Islamic Party of Malaysia(PAS) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP), are also driven by the desire to gain power through the quickest route. For them also the end justifies the means. July 9--- whatever the arguments against it--- is an important stepping-stone towards that goal.
Read the full article HERE -->Dr. Chandra Muzaffar @OUTSYED THE BOX