No more talks with EC, says Ambiga

Unless Putrajaya gives a clear promise that reforms will be implemented before the 13th general election, the April 28 Bersih rally will go on. 

(Free Malaysia Today) – Polls reform group, Bersih’s chief S Ambiga has declared that there will be no more talks with the Election Commission (EC) and that the coalition will proceed with its planned mass “sit in” protest on April 28th.

The former Bar Council president told FMT that “it would be a waste of time” to engage the body after it failed to respond to Bersih’s demand that poll reforms be implemented before the 13th national polls are held.

The group announced on Wednesday that it would hold a nationwide “sit in” after they deemed Putrajaya’s election reform pledges a failure. The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) had issued its report on the matter on Tuesday.

Bersih detractors claimed the planned protest, dubbed “Bersih 3.0″, showed the group’s insincerity. They said the group was never keen on a diplomatic solution but wanted a street protest aimed at overthrowing the government.

Barisan Nasional lawmakers questioned the hasty decision to hold the protest and said its motive was suspect as it gave no timeline for the EC to study the report which is crucial for the recommendations to take place.

Ambiga said the only positive response tolerable would be a clear promise by Putrajaya that the reforms would be implemented by the 13th general election.

“Yes. Unless they make it clear, it is a waste of time. We will not engage the EC anymore,” she said.

Putrajaya’s move to set up a PSC came after the Najib administration grappled with widespread condemnation for its strong arm tactics against Bersih and its supporters at the July rally, forcing the government to consider the group’s demands in a move to contain a potential voter backlash.

No coup

Over 1,600 people were detained as a result, including Ambiga and scores of opposition lawmakers, but the group later declared the event a success based on the number of participants and the publicity it earned in both local and international media.

The July rally, dubbed Bersih 2.0, was the second mass protest held by the group and prior to yesterday’s announcement, talks were rife that the polls watchdog was planning to hold a third.