Bersih 2.0: Pahang MB Will Have Unchecked Power

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The Coalition of Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) has decried the creation of up to five unelected seats of State Legislative Assembly Members in Pahang, calling it an insidious attempt to usurp democracy and give unchecked power to Menteri Besar Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail.

“By expanding the total of state representatives from 42 to 47, more than expanding the BN-PN coalition government’s current majority from 33-9 up to 38-9, it will give the MB an absolute power to appoint loyalists as cheerleaders in the state assembly or potential candidates to target opposition-held constituencies with public funds.

“Bersih 2.0 is alarmed that these five bonus seats would make Pahang MB a powerful warlord unchecked not only by the opposition but also by allies in the coalition government.

“And this would come at a whopping RM3 million cost annually borne by Pahang taxpayers,” said the election watchdog in a statement today.

Last week, the Pahang state assembly approved a constitutional amendment that would allow up to five people to become state legislators by appointment instead of being voted into office. The controversial move prompted the opposition to stage a walk-out in protest.

“Bersih 2.0 rejects completely MB Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail’s false claim that such appointments are not politically motivated, and the nominated assemblypersons would need to justify their professional qualifications before the appointment.

Bersih 2.0 also said that it categorically debunks Wan Rosdy’s ‘bogus excuse’ that Pahang needs more assemblypersons to serve the voters on four grounds:

– Pahang reps met only 11 days in the whole of 2019;

– Better services are provided by better funded and more efficient government agencies, including elected local authorities, not by increasing assemblypersons;

– With an annual electorate growth rate of around two percent, Pahang has the fourth-lowest voters per assemblypersons ratio (19,619 voters in 2018) in the peninsula, completely dwarfed by Selangor (43,142), Johor (32,464) and Kedah (31,847); and

– If Pahang ever needs more assemblypersons, then the state government should amend the state constitution to increase the number of seats, not creating nominated seats.

Bersih did say that while absolutely opposing unelected bonus seats for government, it did support the introduction of non-constituency lawmakers.

“If legislatures are actively scrutinising governments, with many select committees, non-constituency lawmakers with policy expertise may contribute substantively to lawmaking and policy formulation,” it said.

However, Bersih said such lawmakers can be elected on a separate party-list ballot alongside the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) ballot for constituency representatives, as in Germany, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Italy. – Malaysiakini