Bersih 2.0 has demanded the immediate resignation of all seven Election Commissioners, charging them with 278 violations during the recently-concluded GE14.
The electoral reform movement accused them of complicity in attempts to obstruct democracy and the people’s right to vote in the May 9 polls.
Executive director Yap Swee Seng said they were also seeking to charge the commissioners and some election officers for breaking the law leading up to and during GE14.
“A special task force must be set up by the police and Attorney-General’s Chambers to see this through, and a Royal Commission of Inquiry should also be initiated into the electoral system so that reforms can take place,” he said at a press conference.
Yap said they expected the resignation and charging of the commissioners and officers to be completed within 100 days.
Bersih 2.0 acting chairman Shahrul Aman Mohd Saari said if the EC commissioners refused to resign, the process to remove them must be immediately initiated.
“Without their removal, there will be difficulties in carrying out institutional reforms,” he told the press at the presentation of the preliminary findings on GE14 compiled by Bersih and Pemantau.
The findings by the Bersih 2.0 committee members and Pemantau included unconstitutional redrawing of election boundaries, failure to clean up the electoral roll, arbitrary disqualification and prevention of nominations of candidates, failure to act on election offences (such as rampant vote buying, treating and corruption) and failure to reform the postal and advance voting system.
Shahrul said the removal of the EC commissioners was crucial based on the misconduct found by Bersih and Pemantau coordinators on polling day.
Among the highest number of complaints Bersih 2.0 received on EC misconduct concerned wrong labelling of ballot boxes for parliament and state seats (62), refusal to properly cross out names on the electoral roll (37), impersonation and phantom voters (36), ballot papers issued without the official EC stamp or serial numbers (28) and ballot papers without markings (23).
“The 14th general election (GE14) was rife with corruption, fraud and malpractice. Election laws were ignored or enforced in an arbitrary and often biased manner.
“The EC failed to command public confidence in managing the electoral process and system, and ruined the integrity of GE14,” he added.
“One of the offences that delayed the final election results from being announced by EC was that counting agents at some locations were refused copies of Form 14 by the head of the polling stations.
“This is an offence under Section 4 (a) of the Election Offences Act.
“In many instances, the forms were handed over only after pressure from counting agents. However, there were reports from Selangor, Perak, Johor and Sabah that counting agents were unable to get their copies of this form,” said Shahrul.
Bersih advocacy and education officer Zoe Randhawa spoke of instances where vote buying occurred in Sabah.
“Cash amounting to RM200 and sometimes more were handed out to voters in Keningau, Tawau and Pensiangan by BN. In Keningau, it was passed off as travel allowance,” she said.
Other cases included biased behaviour by election officials and workers who instructed elderly or disabled voters who they should vote for at the station, ballot papers at 16 schools without markings, stamp or serial numbers, and difficulties faced by some in accessing polling stations.
However, Bersih also acknowledged two positive improvements during GE14.
“Compared to GE13 no complaints were received about the ease of removing the indelible ink.
“And in previous elections, all parties blatantly flouted election laws by setting up campaign booths outside polling stations during Polling Day. The commission disallowed this which likely reduced harassment and violence in GE14,” said Zoe.
Shahrul revealed that Bersih 2.0 will be issuing a comprehensive report in the coming weeks analysing GE14’s fairness and making recommendations to rectify the country’s electoral system.
“The report on GE14 will add to the many existing reports, proposals and memoranda awaiting implementation by the EC and the government of the day,” he said.