Bersih 2.0 co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan expressed disappointment with the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reform, particularly the Pakatan Rakyat MPs in it, for failing to emphasise in its report that the EC must implement its core recommendations before the next polls.
“We are angry that the PSC did not stipulate that most recommendations particularly Bersih’s eight demands must be implemented before the 13th general election, and disappointed that the (Pakatan’s) minority report also does not stipulate this,” she told a young audience of about 50 at a chat session in Bangsar today.
However, Ambiga noted that some of the PSC recommendations were commendable, such as the call for a caretaker government and its attention on the issue of political funding.
The chat session, organised by UndiMalaysia, is aimed at explaining the need for a Bersih 3.0.
Adding that early polls in June now seems likely, Ambiga said this would ultimately render the PSC report as nothing more than a thesis.
She also shot down claims that the PSC report has fulfilled most of Bersih 2.0’s demands made during its July 9 rally last year.
“This word ‘fulfilled’ is irritating to me. What does fulfill mean? It means to make it happen before the 13th general election.
“That is all we are asking for; make it happen and we will back off,” she said.
Ambiga added that imminent polls ultimately justify the needs for a Bersih 3.0 sit-in protest which is scheduled for Apr 28 at Dataran Merdeka.
“You are rushing to have the election in June. (Therefore) you are not giving us a choice; we have to make our stance and tell the government that they have to delay the election to make sure reforms are implemented.
“You guys (the government) are rushing (for elections), so we are rushing (to protest) too.
“We say stop (the threat of an election). If you are sincere about reforms, then make it happen before the 13th general election,” she reiterated.
Civil society drives Bersih
Addressing claims that the opposition had hijacked the electoral reform movement, Ambiga stressed that the ruling coalition was also welcome to join the movement.
“We will not allow them to hijack the event… I assure you the we are very strong civil society NGOs and we are clear about our agenda,” she said in reference to the 82 bodies under Bersih 2.0.
However, she acknowledged that the opposition may have affinity with Bersih as it had pioneered the first rally in 2007.
“At the end of the day they started a very important movement in the country and I’m not going to run them down for it, there is a sense that they are still part of it but we’ve made it clear that we (civil society) are driving them this time,” she said.
While admitting that she cannot change the perception that the opposition has a hand in the movement, she stressed that the people should ultimately judge Bersih by its deeds.
“It is easy to run down the movement so that you don’t have to address the demands… but we don’t need to waste time on this, you can judge us by our conduct,” she said.
This article was reproduced from Malaysiakini and can be found here.