EC responsible for 10 electoral crimes in GE14, Bersih prelim report finds

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KUALA LUMPUR (May 6): The Election Commission (EC) is responsible for 10 electoral crimes, according to electoral reform group The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) preliminary findings on the integrity of the electoral process and system in the 14th General Elections (GE14).

At a press conference today, Bersih 2.0 acting chairperson Shahrul Aman Mohd Saari these findings are based on the group's ongoing monitoring of the electoral system since 2006 and the PEMANTAU (Election Observers) campaign which focuses on election offenses in the past six months.

"Bersih 2.0 concludes that EC of Malaysia has failed to command public confidence in managing the electoral process and system of Malaysia, in particular for GE14. The seven members of the EC -Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah, Othman Haji Mahmood, Md Yusop Haji Mansor, Abdul Aziz Khalidin, Sulaiman Haji Narawi, Bala Singam a/l Karupiah, and Leo Chong Cheong have committed 10 serious crimes against the voters in Malaysia, and in so doing has ruined the integrity of GE14," he said.

Hence, Shahrul Aman said Bersih 2.0 concluded that the upcoming GE14 is already not clean, free, or fair even before the polling day.

"Bersih 2.0 holds the EC responsible and guilty for the 10 crimes above as they are the primary body responsible to manage and conduct elections in Malaysia. Bersih 2.0 is compelled to do so to highlight the severity of the problems surrounding GE14," he said.

Shahrul Aman also said the EC has failed the voters and has not uphold the integrity of the elections.

"Although GE14 will not be clean, free, or fair, Bersih 2.0 believes that you will play an important role in the upcoming elections. It is now up to you. The electoral fraud and manipulation can only be overcome if you and all Malaysians turn up to vote as we have all done in 2008 and 2013. Bersih 2.0 therefore calls upon all voters to vote against electoral fraud and manipulation on May 9, 2018. As a sign of protest and solidarity, Bersih 2.0 also encourages all Malaysians to wear yellow, tie yellow ribbon, paint your Facebook yellow two days before the polling day, on May 7 and 8," he said.

In a statement, Bersih 2.0 listed these 10 crimes as below:

(1) Gerrymandering, Malapportionment, and Abuse of the Redelineaiton Process

The EC has abused the redelineation process by worsening malapportionment and facilitating partisan gerrymandering. The final redelineation report passed by parliament has worsened malapportionment and created super-sized constituencies by packing together opposition supporters, thus violating the principle of ”one person one vote". The partisan gerrymandering and malapportionment will unfairly swing approximately 15 parliamentary constituencies in favour of Barisan Nasional (BN) in the elections.

The EC has also disregarded due process by rushing through the redelineation in unprecedented Speed. It was clear that the EC, government, and Yang Di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat were adamant to pass the redelineation report at all cost before GE14. The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) is complicit for stopping voters from challenging the constitutionality of the redelineation in court.

(2) Failure to Clean up the Electoral Roll and Preventing Phantom Voters

The EC has failed to maintain a clean and accurate electoral roll. Approximately 15% of voters (2,123,973 voters) in the electoral roll have incomplete or no addresses. Many voters were deliberately and illegally transferred to marginal constituencies by political parties to sway the results, causing abnormally high number of voters being registered using similar or non-existing addresses (estimated over 500,000 voters).

These irregularities continue to persist although the 2011 Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reform has affirmed the problems and recommended for SPR to clean up the electoral roll.

In the past three weeks, many voters have discovered problems with their registration in the electoral roll upon checking. Voters have found that they were removed or missing from the electoral roll, transferred to other constituencies without their knowledge, registered without their consent, and names of those deceased were still in the electoral roll.

Such flaws in the electoral roll allows opportunities for irresponsible parties to organize phantom voters to illegally vote during election day. Complaints were filed to the EC, but no action were taken to remedy the situation. The EC and AGC continue to use Section 9A of the Elections Act 1958 to deny the right of voters to challenge the integrity of the electoral roll in the courts.

(3) Voter Registration

The EC has failed in its duty to register eligible voters and caused widespread disenfranchisement of voters. Approximately 3.8 million Malaysians (20% of total eligible voters) remain unregistered and are unable to vote in GE14. The EC has deliberately made it more difficult for voters to register since 2013 by removing the appointment of Assistant Registrar Officers (ARO) from political parties. Meanwhile, the SPR approved AROs from BN and government-friendly organisations.

The EC did not take action to stop the abuse of the registration objection process under Regulation 15 of the Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations 2002. On one hand, frivolous and random objections by irresponsible parties were allowed. While on the other hand, genuine objection against phantom voters who were illegally transferred were disallowed.

(4) Setting Polling Day on a Wednesday The EC is suppressing voter turnout by deliberately setting polling day on a Wednesday, without providing any reasonable explanation to the decision and as to why a more accommodating date

was not set. Analysis on past elections have shown that voter turnout will be lower when elections are set on a weekday.

This unreasonable and unexplained decision will cause massive inconveniences to millions of voters who needs to travel home to vote, especially those working outstation or overseas.

(5) Setting the Bare Minimum Campaigning Period

The EC has deliberately set only 11 days for the campaigning period, which is the bare minimum as required by law. Again, no reasonable explanation was provided.

It is believed that this is done to supress the scope of election campaign and voter outreach, especially by the opposition political parties who have limited access to mainstream media. In effect, Voters are denied adequate time to receive information to make an informed decision.

(6) Arbitrary Disqualification and Prevention of Nominations

The EC has gravely violated the right of citizens to be nominated as election candidates, and by extension the right of voters to vote for their preferred candidate, as provided by the Federal Constitution.

On Apr 28, 2018, two persons were denied nomination. in the case of Tian Chua, the EC has acted against a court ruling which declared that Tian Chua is not disqualified as a Member of Parliament and is eligible to stand for elections. In the case of Streram Sinnasamy, the police and election officers physically prevented him from entering the nomination centre because of a trivial administrative issue which has no legal basis.

(7) Failure to Take Action against Election Offenses

Over 400 election offenses involving bribery and vote buying, treating, and gifting have been recorded before and during the election period. The EC has failed to prevent, stop, or take action against these widespread election offenses. As such, the EC has cultivated and allowed for a crippling and corrupt election culture, where money and gifts are condoned and openly used as part of campaigning activities to win votes.

The EC has also failed to set appropriate guidelines on caretaker government despite repeated calls by civil society to do so. This has resulted in the Federal Government, State Governments, caretaker Ministers, and caretaker Exco Members to openly misuse government machinery, power, and resources for their election campaigning purposes.

(8) Making Arbitrary and Unreasonable Election Regulations

Instead of focusing on the other serious offenses, the EC chose to focus on making arbitrary and unreasonable election regulations at the very last minute without adequate public consultation.

In particular, the EC has supressed the freedom of expression of political parties and candidates by ruling that campaign materials can only contain photos of the candidates and the main leaders of their party. The ruling is a clear attempt to target and limit the opposition from advertising their Prime Minister candidate.

The EC has no business in regulating the content of campaign materials and activities unless they are malicious or promotes ill-will. Even so, such actions must be proportionate, reasonable, and enforced equitable against all candidates and political parties.

(9) lrregularities in Advance Voting and Postal Voting

The EC has ignored calls to abolish the postal voting system and reform the advance voting system‘ This has resulted in irregularities concerning the transparency and integrity of the Advance Voting and Postal Voting systems.

The EC has allowed for the registration of over 3,500 phantom advance voters in three military camps that have yet to be completed. In the past week, Polling Agents have discovered several cases where duplicate postal ballots were issued to a same postal voter. The EC has yet to announce the finalized number of domestic postal voters in each constituency despite repeated calls to do so. Meanwhile, many overseas postal voters have complained that they received ballot papers late resulting them being unable to send back their votes in time for the election.

(10) Failure to Allow Meaningful Election Observation

Despite announcing that 14 countries and 14 local organisations have been appointed as Election Observers, the EC has failed to provide any further information on the substance of the election observation. No information is provided on the process, scope, and terms of reference of the Election Observers. In an incident, Majlis Belia Malaysia (MBM), one of the local organisation appointed as Election Observer, was found organising an event promoting BN candidates.

On the other hand, the EC has also denied the application of other more experienced and legitimate Election Observer organisations and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM).