Stop voter threats, BN urged
Writer: Lee Choon Fai
Published: Fri, 12 Apr 2013
KUALA LUMPUR: Claims that anarchy would ensue should Pakatan Rakyat win the General Election were slammed by the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) yesterday.
Ambiga (third from left) and Fernandez (fourth from right)
speaking to reporters yesterday.
Bersih co-chief Datuk S Ambiga pointed out that the message being spread on Barisan Nasional (BN) billboards was akin to threats and intimidation of voters.
“What are they saying? The message is that if you don’t vote for BN there will be trouble,” said Ambiga during a press conference yesterday.
“Is that the campaign BN really wants to run rather than based on their policies?” she asked.
Ambiga pointed out the huge number of such billboards that could be seen along the North-South Expressway.
She also refuted allegations by Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim, the former Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) chairperson, that Bersih was out to create chaos through their polling agents, counting agents and booth agent (Pacaba) training programme.
Abdul Aziz claimed on Wednesday that the electoral watchdog, along with Pakatan Rakyat, is planning to disrupt GE13 by instructing voters to request for random ballot papers.
His rationale is that voters demanding the random ballots from election clerks on duty will create a commotion and force the police to remove them while the whole incident will be recorded to make the polls look dirty and smear the Election Commission (EC).
“To suggest for one minute that we are going to cause trouble on that day is a highly defamatory statement,” said Ambiga.
“Bersih has always been against it (ballot randomisation), and Tindak Malaysia after consultation with us has stopped giving training or forums on randomisation; it is a non-issue,” she added.
“The statement made by Tunku Abdul Aziz, to say the least, is outrageous and highly irresponsible; we will be issuing a public statement on that.”
Tindak Malaysia is not a part of the Bersih 2.0 coalition but the two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are close affiliates and frequently work together.
She also noted that Tindak Malaysia founder Wong Piang Yow had already issued a statement on the matter urging Abdul Aziz to attend one of their Pacaba training programmes to see for himself.
Bersih 2.0’s special monitoring committee also took the Federal government to task for breaching several caretaker government guidelines since the dissolution of Parliament on April 3.
The electoral watchdog launched a GE13 code of conduct along with a set of guidelines for a caretaker government on April 5.
Among the nine breaches is caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s handout of 22,000 motorcycle helmets to BN youth supporters for campaigning purposes and a RM5.1 million allocation to 98 Chinese schools in Kedah directly from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Najib also announced three separate projects in Putrajaya that come up to RM8 billion in funds and extended the privileges offered by the 1Malaysia Discount Card.
Ambiga said that all the above instances are direct violations of the TI-M Election Integrity pledge which Najib and other BN leaders signed.
His deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, fared no better by announcing that laptops will be given to all students if BN is re-elected while three vehicles from the Information Department were used to launch BN’s Batu command centre.
“These are a lot of handouts after the dissolution of Parliament, there are concerns whether taxpayers’ money is being given out,” said special committee member Irene Fernandez.
She noted that the 22,000 motorcycle helmets may be bought using party money instead of government funds and Bersih 2.0 will be writing to BN for clarification.
At the same time, the Selangor Government was also criticised for handing out RM300 bonus to civil servants.
An additional RM2.46 million was allocated to the Neighbourhood Safety Programme, while residents in three villages in Bestari Jaya were granted land titles.
“Why are they giving handouts now? All this (BN and PR) is tantamount to vote-buying,” said Fernandez, who is also Tenaganita executive director.
Lastly, the electoral watchdog announced a forum on April 17 8.45pm where Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Najib have been invited to present their respective manifestos.
“Anwar has already accepted and we are waiting for Najib’s response; even if he does not come or send any representative, it’s still on,” said Ambiga.
In the event that BN does not send anyone, Ambiga said they will find a way to have someone present it and assured that it will be conducted as fairly as possible.