DECLARATION OF SARAWAK DAP LAW-MAKERS for clean free and fair elections
We believe that Malaysia must become a true democracy.
But the “first to pass the post” electoral system in the country has been tainted by and besmirched with electoral fraud and corruption in the form of rampant vote buying practiced by the Barisan Nasional. However, the Election Commission does not have enforcement and prosecutorial powers.
We believe in equal and not disproportionate representation.
But, we have clear imbalance in representation because of unfair constituency delineation, so that some state constituencies are 4 to 5 times bigger than others, and some Parliamentary constituencies are more than 10 times bigger than others. For example, in the Sarawak State Election, N.70 BaKelalan has 6958 voters compared to N.10 Pending which has 29,488 voters. The BN won 25 constituencies with voters less than 10,000 in each constituency. Compare this with 10 seats that were won by the DAP with voters exceeding 20,000 each. Because of disproportionate weightage in the votes, the BN secured 55% of the popular votes in the Sarawak State election but won 77.5% of the seats. At Parliamentary level, Putrajaya has 8840 voters, whereas Kapar has 122011 voters (13 times that of Putrajaya). In 2010 general election Pakatan Rakyat won all 5 constituencies which had more than 100,000 voters each. There are 8 constituencies with less than 20000 voters, all won by the BN. A distorted and unbalanced weightage means unfair representation.
We believe that the Government machinery should not be abused to sway election results.
But we have seen the BN Government handing out projects before and during election times in order to hoodwink voters and fish for their votes, with the Prime Minister setting the most obnoxious example of vote fishing by his “You Help Me, I Help You” utterance at Rejang Park during the eve of Sibu by-election. We have also seen the federal and state government splashing goodies just to win votes for the state BN during the Sarawak state election.
We believe that the media must be left to remain neutral and be an important bastion in upholding democracy.
But the repressive requirement to renew publication licenses annually and BN control means that the media had little choice but to resort to imbalance reporting against the Opposition during the election time. In some newspapers, there had even been a total black-out of news concerning the Pakatan Rakyat during elections.
We believe that the electoral rolls should be clean and free from phantom voters.
But despite the insistence that the electoral roll is constantly being updated, we see in the electoral rolls thousands of centurian voters, and the deceased as eligible and unimpeachable voters, giving rise to suspicion of phantom voters. We should demand that there should be linkage to the data base of the National Registration Department so that all eligible Malaysians should automatically be registered as voters. The Election Commission should use indelible ink to avoid phantom voting.
We believe that the Election Commission, Police and the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commossion must be fair and independent
But we see an Election Commission which has increasingly become the mouthpiece for the BN. It has no power to enforce election laws and is not able to ensure free and fair elections. Political parties should be allowed a longer campaign period than the present 8-10 days. The Police and the MACC must be independent.
We believe that postal votes should be transparent and allowed for all Malaysians working overseas.
But we see postal votes are issued to police and security personnel who have no connection to the State except by virtue of their temporary posting to Sarawak. We see non-Sarawakian army personnel voting to determine the destiny of the BN in Sarawak. We see eligible Malaysians working overseas being denied their voting opportunities. During every election we hear postal votes being the target of vote buying.
Against these flaws in the electoral system, we join Malaysians to demand for electoral reforms.
We believe that it is every citizen’s right to see that elections are free and fair.
We believe that the constitutional right of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression must be upheld by the Government, for a true Democracy entails a government of the people, by the people, for the people. It ensures that the people are the masters of the country.
We insist that all legitimate demands for electoral reforms must be taken cognizance of and not brushed aside as fanciful tricks to topple the Government.
We abhor the thought that the electoral system as practised now is perfect and beyond reproach.
We implore on the Government to cherish the goodwill of 62 NGOs which had demanded for electoral reforms through peaceful means. We believe such demand is for the betterment of the country.
It is the sacrosanct duty of all Malaysians to ensure that the country prosper and not sink to the pit. It is their bounden duty to ensure that Malaysia continues to subscribe and respect human rights.
We condemn the barrage of arbitrary arrests of electoral reform groups and political leaders and supporters in violation of their fundamental rights to freedom of association, expression, and peaceful assembly.
We call for their immediate release.
We urge the Prime Minister to pay regard to his pledge to uphold civil liberties and to pay regard for the fundamental rights of the people of Malaysia when he assumed his office as the prime minister in April 2009.
We condemn all those who pay no respect to the sanctity of the electoral process by drumming tension and orchestrating measures to sink legitimate demands for a clean free and fair election.
We appeal for restoration of public order and security. We believe that no measure can contain the civic mindedness of the Ubah generation of Malaysians to see change.
While we appeal to the electorates to rise to the occasion to express support for a just and legitimate cause and to demand for a clean, free and fair election, we also appeal to the acumen of the Government in this pivotal moment to rise to the occasion to support the call by implementing reform. There should be no procrastination, for electoral reform is vital to propel the nation forward to becoming a better and more vibrant democracy.
9th July 2011 at Stutong, Kuching
Chiew Chin Sing.