Ambiga threatens street demo

(The Malay Mail) – Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) co-chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the organisation had not ruled out holding a third rally if its eight electoral demands were not met before the coming general election.

Ambiga said the Election Commission (EC) must implement the demands – the use of indelible ink, cleaning up the electoral roll, reforming postal voting, a minimum campaign period of 21 days, free and fair access to the media, strengthening public institutions, and eradicating corruption and dirty politics – to ensure a free and fair election to the public.

“Don’t rule out Bersih 3.0. We have tried everything and we are still trying. We still believe in negotiations. We still believe that the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) can make a difference but PSC can only come up with recommendations. They have got to be implemented. So we will try all those things,” she said at a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall yesterday.

“But ultimately, if the demands are not fulfilled before the next general election then do not rule out Bersih 3.0. If the EC doesn’t fulfill those recommendations, it means they have no respect for the people, PSC and the Parliament.”

The Bersih 2.0 rally in July last year was the biggest in history since its last one in 2007, with close to 20,000 Malaysians in yellow t-shirts marching against police barricades and chemicallaced water shot by the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) towards the Merdeka Stadium.

A month later, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the formation of PSC to study electoral reforms.

The EC had since announced that the use of indelible ink, advanced voting for service voters, and an audit of the electoral roll by Mimos Bhd would be carried out for the next general election.

Ambiga, who is a former Bar Council president, also launched the “Jom 100” campaign to reach out to eligible voters nationwide and educate the public on their voting rights.

“In our view it (registering as voters) is necessary and we aim to increase the voter turnout for the 13th general election,” she said.

“What we are aiming for is, of course, a 100 per cent turnout. It won’t happen but it is good to aim. So far, we have had 76 per cent voter turnout in 2008. We want to educate voters on their rights and responsibilities as voters.”

Ambiga said a high voter turnout would help “mitigate electoral fraud”.

“A 100 per cent voter turnout can mitigate electoral fraud and also gerrymandering of the electoral boundaries,” she said.

“We think large numbers coming out can mitigate the effects of these negative influences on an election.”

She also called on Malaysian voters abroad to return when the general election was called, if the Election Commission (EC) did not allow overseas voting.

The “Jom 100” campaign will begin after Chinese New Year and will kick off in Sarawak. Bersih also announced national laureate Datuk A. Samad Said as the organisation’s co-chairman.