Ambiga: ‘Bersih 3.0’ necessary if electoral reforms fail

(The Malaysian Insider) – A “Bersih 3.0” rally may be necessary, Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has cautioned Putrajaya, pointing to lagging polls reforms and reports of a sudden surge of voters in some parliamentary constituencies.

The Bersih 2.0 chairman said that “a long time” has passed since last year’s July 9 rally but Malaysians have yet to see significant polls reforms implemented, some of which could be done without the recommendation of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms.

The PSC was formed last year to address concerns over the country’s election system after the Najib administration earned international condemnation for its handling of the Bersih 2.0 rally.

“Looking at the way things are going now, we may have no choice.

“Do not rule out Bersih 3.0,” Ambiga (picture) told The Malaysian Insider.

“We have not seen electoral reforms; instead we see more and more irresponsible acts taking place… political violence.

“If the government is not serious about electoral reform the public will have to make itself heard,” she said. 

Thousands of Malaysians took to the streets on July 9 to join Bersih 2.0’s rally for free and fair elections but the protest turned ugly at midday when riot police launched tear gas canisters and water cannons to disperse participants.

The widespread clampdown, which saw more than 1,000 people arrested even before the rally, earned the Najib administration a whiplashing in the international media.

Under pressure, the government then promised a slew of reform measures, which included the formation of the PSC and the enactment of the highly-criticised Peaceful Assembly Act last year. 

But Ambiga remained tight-lipped when pressed for details on Bersih’s plans for a future rally, saying she would not want to divulge details yet.

“We are waiting for the government, giving them time… I will make an announcement at an appropriate time.”

The lawyer said Bersih was very concerned about reports of an alleged surge of voters in some constituencies as well apparent altering of polling districts. 

“There must be a rational basis for it. Why were voters not told? Was it gazetted as required? This, and other reports of registration of foreigners, is of concern.

“Also, why are the reasonable demands of Bersih not being implemented when it can easily be done even without the PSC report?

“Above and beyond everything else the public must have confidence in the electoral processes and in the integrity of the electoral roll… right now there are more questions than answers,” she said.