Bersih: PSC’s recommendations must come before polls

By Tarani Palani, FMT

PETALING JAYA : Polls watchdog Bersih 2.0 today said it was not concerned with the composition of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms as what was more important was for the committee to complete its task before the next general election.

“Political parties have a right to choose their representatives to be in the PSC. We can’t challenge that.

“All we are saying is that the PSC has to finish its job before the general election is announced,” Bersih steering committee member Dr Subramaniam Pillay said at a press conference today.

He was asked to comment on the five Barisan Nasional MPs who will be sitting in the PSC.

Yesterday BN announced that it will be represented by Maximus Johnity Ongkili (PBS-Marudu), Alexander Nanta Linggi (PBB-Kapit), Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad (Umno-Kangar), Fong Chan Onn (MCA-Alor Gajah) and P Kamalanathan (MIC-Hulu Selangor).

Ongkili is the chairman of the committee which has been given a six-month deadline to come up with its recommendations. The bill to form the committee will be tabled when Parliament sits on Oct 3.

Three Pakatan Rakyat MPs and one independent MP will complete the nine-member PSC. Pakatan is expected to name its representatives next week.

The choice of BN MPs for the committee has not sat down well with some quarters who had argued that these MPs were not familiar with electoral matters.

Subramaniam, however, brushed aside these critics, arguing that it was the quality of the work that the committee does that matters at the end of the day.

“We had a committee which did a good job (to review) the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). That committee was also made up of some old (has-been) politicians.

“Then we had the PSC to look into national unity and I don’t know what came out of that,” he said.

PSC should be committed

Subramaniam, when asked if Bersih had any preference on who should be the Pakatan MPs on the PSC, said that the decision was for Pakatan to make.

“We cannot say. That’ up to Pakatan to decide. The Pakatan people cannot tell us what to do. Similarly, we cannot tell the Pakatan people what to do,” he said.

He, however, hoped that Pakatan will pick representatives with knowledge on electoral procedures.

He reiterated Bersih’s stand that it wanted the PSC to complete its task before the elections are called and urged Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to ensure this.

“If the elections are called in October and the PSC is formed in October, then the PSC would not have even started its job… it is merely a public relations exercise,” he added.