Tuesday, August 9

Bersih to PM: Ensure political stability, GE15 guessing game hurting nation

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Bersih logo – Photo from Facebook/Bersih2.0

KUCHING (July 8): The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) has called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to demonstrate leadership by stabilising Malaysian politics.

In a statement today, Bersih said Ismail Sabri should either call for an early general election (GE15) or work on more institutional reforms until July 2023.

“The guessing game of GE15 is hurting the nation with not only uncertainty that affects decisions to be made in economic and public life, but also distracts ministers’ attention from governance,” said Bersih.

“If the Prime Minister cannot decide on when to call for an early election, he should just by default lay out the governance and reform plan for the remainder of his term till July 16, 2023. He should show leadership and determination in stabilising Malaysian politics.”

Bersih also called on the Prime Minister to advance an agenda of political transformation that can ensure political stability and accountability after GE15.

The statement was issued following Bersih’s two-day conference entitled ‘Gearing Up for GE15: What Reforms Do Voters Want’, where politicians from various parties and experts from academia and civil society discussed urgent reforms needed before GE15.

Among the reforms addressed were implementing a 10-year tenure limit for prime ministers; introducing a constructive vote of no-confidence; introducing fixed term parliament; separation of Attorney-General and Public Prosecutor’s offices; enacting Federal and State Laws for Equitable Constituency Development Fund (CDF); and formation of a Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) on electoral matters.

Other issues discussed involved expanding absentee voting rights to out-of-region voters; improving postal voting process for overseas Malaysian voters; empowering PSSCs; restoring the Parliamentary Services Act; enhancing the independence, impartiality, and representativeness of Speakers and Deputy Speakers; and amendments to the Standing Orders to empower both Opposition MPs and government backbenchers to enable Private Members’ Bills.

Bersih said other institutional reforms not discussed but are equally crucial are on legislating a Political Financing Act which includes public funding of political parties and the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Plan or its functional equivalent.

“Bersih noted that Ismail Sabri issued a statement on May 19 this year that a Special Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption agreed in principle to the enactment of a Political Financing Bill, a comprehensive plan that will institutionalise good governance principles and practices as the National Good Governance Plan (MyGovernance) at all government agencies including statutory bodies will be introduced, and the separation of the AG and Public Prosecutor’s offices will be explored.

“We applaud the willingness of the Ismail Sabri government to consider these reforms and implement those already in the MoU for Transformation and Political Stability.

“It’s time for the PM to restore public confidence in our political and electoral process, a goal that should be supported by all parties, both in the government and Opposition benches,” Bersih stressed.

Bersih added it is aware that many structural reforms require constitutional amendments and called on all parties and MPs, including Umno, to lend their support to any such reform agenda, and for the government to start a consultation process with all stakeholders to secure their input and support.