- Posted April 21, 2012 by
Malaysia- Bersih: Amendments remove safeguards from fraud
The coalition for clean and fair elections Bersih said today that the amendments to the Election Offences Act passed by the Dewan Rakyat early today remove safeguards from fraud.
In particular, it feels the amendments are frustrating all plans laid out to nab phantom voters and reduce multiple voting.
Speaking to reporters today, Bersih said the amendments - passed by the lower house after midnight - dilute the role of independent polling agents, who are now even told when they can enter the polling station to observe polling and counting of the ballots.
“The Election Commission (EC) can even only allow counting agents in after the counting is done, going by the amendments.
“Hopefully this is not what it has in mind but it can happen,” said Bersih steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah (right) of the amendment to Section 14 1(A).
Candidates are also not allowed to place election monitors at the election booths (barong) where EC clerks check a voter’s identity card and give out ballot papers.
Section 26A subsections (2) and (3) are deleted in full, barring election monitors, candidates and their staff from observing the registration of voters during polling day.
“This is a major blow to plans to weed out phantom voters. They can now walk in freely and the polling agent (even if he is allowed into the polling station) will have no opportunity to look at the identity card of the voter,” Bersih co-chaiperson Ambiga Sreenevasan said.
She said this also reduces the effect of the indelible ink in reducing multiple voting, as independent agents cannot verify if someone who has been marked is not allowed to vote again.
Other amendments to Section 26 also bars election monitors or independent polling agents from checking the identity of those entering the polling centre.
The exclusion zone for polling day has also been extended from 50m to 100m from the polling station, which Bersih argues makes it “impossible for election monitors to see if anything illegal is going on”.
Anyone found guilty of violating this face a fine of RM5,000 or a maximum one year in jail or both.
“What's the point of the indelible ink? Who can check if people inked go in there for the second time? On one hand they are allowing the indelible ink and on the other hand they are reducing its effect,” Ambiga said.
Call for public to urge resignation of EC
She added that amendments to Section 11(c) could also lead to more dirty politics in election campaigns.
The clause, which was deleted in full, required printed materials to have names and addresses of the printers and publishers.
“This means that anyone can now put up anonymous defamatory, racist or sexist posters without identifying the publisher or printer,” she said, adding that the end of dirty politics is part of Bersih’s eight demands.
The amendments still need to be passed by the Dewan Negara and gazetted into law, but Ambiga (left) believes that it was passed in an “unholy rush” this morning so it will be in place for the next polls.
“It was rushed through with eight Bills yesterday with little discussion and you can see why,” she said.
She also questioned if the parliamentary select committee on electoral reform members were consulted on the amendments.
“I urge the public to read the amendments and see for yourself what has been deleted to understand what is happening.
“Read it and fax the EC with your views, and if you feel fit, call for the resignation of EC commissioners,” she said.
Can watch video from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Zp5lJDvFbIT