Bersih 2.0 chides EC over Undi18 delay, calls for chairman to resign

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The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) has condemned the Election Commission’s (EC) decision to defer the implementation of lowering the voting age to 18 or Undi18 to next year.

In a statement today, Bersih 2.0 called for the immediate resignation of EC chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh to give way to a successor who would implement the Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) by July 2021 as planned.

Yesterday, Abdul Ghani said the EC expected for Undi18 and AVR to be implemented by Sept 1, 2022, due to several issues and constraints affecting the commission’s early preparations for polls.

“The EC’s decision is a robbery of the rights of about four million Malaysians aged 18-20 to shape the direction of the country at the polls, when the next federal, state or by-election is called.

“Riding on the Covid-19 pandemic is absurd because it has nothing to do with the implementation of Undi18 as the necessary information already exists in the database of the National Registration Department (NRD).

“His lame excuse on Covid-19 is a blatant lie to confuse the public by mixing Undi18 and AVR,” read the statement.

Bersih 2.0 said the process of registering voters aged between 18 and 21 would not involve technicalities and could have been implemented in 2019 after the Constitutional Amendment was gazetted.

The process, however, was delayed because Pas had demanded for Undi18 and AVR to commence concurrently.

“Until Nov 3, 2020, eight months after the commencement of the first Movement Control Order (MCO), de facto law minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan in his parliamentary reply to Kepong member of parliament Lim Lip Eng, promised that with the works carried out by a joint EC-NRD taskforce, AVR was expected to be implemented latest by July 2021, within the EC’s initial estimated timeline, (i.e. 18-24 months from July 25, 2019, when the Senate passed the Constitutional Amendment).

“The EC must answer to all Malaysians what has changed between Nov 3, 2020, and yesterday and whether the EC-NRD taskforce and its contractors have encountered unexpected failures in their works.

“The EC needs to be upfront and transparent, or it will be considered as a yes-man to the ruling party, whose senior leaders have expressed reluctance to see Undi18 being implemented.”

Bersih 2.0 also stressed that it would not hesitate to take “bolder action” if the EC did not expedite the implementation of Undi18.

“Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the EC chairman must bear the sole responsibility for any delay in the implementation of Undi18.

“We also demand that Muhyiddin to immediately allow Parliament to convene so that the Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations and other relevant legislations can be updated to enable implementation of Undi18 and AVR.” – NST