Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bersih - what Malaysians want & what you need to know

Indelible ink

Indelible means "un-removable". Some types of indelible ink have a very short shelf life because of the quickly evaporating solvents used. India, Philippines, Indonesia and other developing countries have used indelible ink the form of electoral stain to prevent electoral fraud. The Election Commission in India has used indelible ink for many elections. Indonesia used it in their last election in Aceh. In Mali, the ink is applied to the fingernail. Indelible ink itself is not infallible as it can be used to commit electoral fraud by marking opponent party members before they have chances to cast their votes. There are also reports of 'indelible' ink washing off voters' fingers.[14]
Postal voting describes the method of voting in an election whereby ballot papers are distributed and/or returned by post to electors, in contrast to electors voting in person at a polling station or electronically via an electronic voting system.
It is of benefit to people who may not be able to attend a polling station in person, either through a physical disability or absence from the locality. This method of voting is available to voters upon application (sometimes with restrictions) in statutory elections in many democratic nations.
On the other hand, concerns about postal voting have been raised as to whether it complies with the requirements of a secret ballot, in that people cast their vote outside the security of a polling station, and whether voters can cast their vote privately free from another person's coercion. There have been cases of electoral fraud with postal votes in the United Kingdom (including in Birmingham at the 2004 European and local government elections in the UK)[1][2][3]
Postal voting can be a way to prevent manipulation of an election through "get out the vote" efforts, for instance, in state conventions of a society, in which supporters of a cause or candidate transport in their supporters by bus in order to vote and then bus them home again.
Voter registration is the requirement in some democracies for citizens and residents to check in with some central registry specifically for the purpose of being allowed to vote in elections. An effort to get people to register is known as a voter registration drive

Effects and controversy

Laws requiring individual voters to register, as opposed to having the government register people automatically, have a strong correlation with lower numbers of people turning out to vote where voting is voluntary. This lower turnout is especially concentrated among low-income voters and young voters — i.e., those least likely to vote no matter what the registration requirements.[citation needed] Because of this, such laws are often controversial. Some advocate for their abolition, while others argue that the laws should be reformed, for instance: allowing voters to register on the day of the election. This tactic, called Election Day Registration, has been adopted by several U.S. states: Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, wherein representatives are chosen or referendums are decided.
Electoral fraud is illegal interference with the process of an election. Acts of fraud affect vote counts to bring about an election result, whether by increasing the vote share of the favored candidate, depressing the vote share of the rival candidates or both. Also called voter fraud, the mechanisms involved include illegal voter registration, intimidation at polls and improper vote counting. What electoral fraud is under law varies from country to country.
Many kinds of voter fraud are outlawed in electoral legislation but others are in violation of general laws such as those banning assault, harassment or libel. Although technically the term 'electoral fraud' covers only those acts which are illegal, the term is sometimes used to describe acts which although legal, are considered to be morally unacceptable, outside the spirit of electoral laws or in violation of the principles of democracy. Show elections, in which only one candidate can win, are sometimes considered to be electoral fraud although they may comply with the law.
In national elections, successful electoral fraud can have the effect of a coup d'état or corruption of democracy. In a narrow election a small amount of fraud may be enough to change the result. If the result is not affected, fraud can still have a damaging effect if not punished, as it can reduce voters' confidence in democracy. Even the perception of fraud can be damaging as it makes people less inclined to accept election results. This can lead to the breakdown of democracy and the establishment of a dictatorship.
Electoral fraud is not limited to political polls and can happen in any election where the potential gain is worth the risk for the cheater; as in elections for labor union officials, student councils, sports judging, and the awarding of merit to books, films, music or television programmes.
Despite many instances of electoral fraud, it remains a difficult phenomenon to study. This follows from its inherent illegality. Harsh penalties aimed at deterring electoral fraud make it likely that individuals who perpetrate fraud do so with the expectation that it either will not be discovered or will be excused.
The media of Malaysia include television, radio, newspapers, and web-based media such as bloggers. Many media outlets are either owned directly by the government of Malaysia (e.g. Bernama) or owned by component parties of the Barisan Nasional coalition government (e.g. the Media Prima group, which is owned by the United Malays National Organisation). 


The regulated freedom of the press has been criticised. Although critics concede that journalists "probably won’t be hauled off and shot" for being critical of the government, it has been claimed that the government creates a chilling effect through threats of reduced employment opportunities and refusing journalists' family members "a place at one of the better public universities". Legislation such as the Printing Presses and Publications Act have also been cited as curtailing freedom of expression.[1]
In 2007, a government agency — the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission — issued a directive to all private television and radio stations to refrain from broadcasting speeches made by opposition leaders.[2] The move was condemned by politicians from the opposition Democratic Action Party.[3] The directive was later withdrawn by the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry.[4]

    Hope of Bersih purpose for free and fair act in election as fallen on deaf ears

    Wikepedia news (source):
    The 2011 Bersih 2.0 rally (also called the Walk for Democracy) is a demonstration in Kuala Lumpur held on 9 July as a follow-up to the 2007 Bersih rally. The rally, organised by the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), is supported by Pakatan Rakyat, the coalition of the three largest opposition parties in Malaysia but has been deemed illegal by the government. Bersih, chaired by former president of the Bar Council Ambiga Sreenevasan, are pushing the Election Commission of Malaysia (EC) to ensure free and fair elections in Malaysia. It has demanded that the EC clean up the electoral roll, reform postal voting, use indelible ink, introduce a minimum 21-day campaign period, allow all parties free access to the media, and put an end to electoral fraud.
    Public gatherings without police permits are illegal in Malaysia. The police have vowed to stop any rallies from taking place on the day. Having originally planned to march through the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Bersih has decided to hold its rally at Merdeka Stadium after consultations with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Malaysia's head of state.
    Two counter-rallies, led by Malay nationalist movement Perkasa and the youth division of the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), were initially announced. Perkasa called off its counter-rally due to the inability to secure a venue and permit.
    The rally was attended by more then 20,000 people, who entered the city from various points. However, the protestors were unable to congregate at Merdeka Stadium as many were forced to disperse by police who were heavily deployed throughout the city. Many Bersih and opposition figures, including Ambiga, were arrested. Police revealed they arrested more than 600 people.
    Supporters of Bersih claim that demands for electoral reform made during the 2007 demonstration have fallen on deaf ears. Meanwhile, detractors of Bersih and supporters of the Perkasa and UMNO Youth counter-rallies dismissed Bersih's demands for electoral reform as well as accused Bersih of, among others, harbouring an opposition political agenda, attempting a coup d'état, and threatening to disrupt public order.


    A scene from the 2007 rally. Protestors on the left are dressed in yellow. They are met by the Federal Reserve Unit, the riot police (in red helmets). Standing in between the protestors and the riot police are PAS's Jabatan Amal volunteer unit (dressed in maroon).
    Bersih, short for the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Malay: Gabungan Pilihanraya Bersih dan Adil), is a coalition of 62 non-governmental organisations founded in November 2006.[1][18] Since its founding, Bersih has been supported by the three main opposition parties, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), PAS, and DAP.[18] Bersih is the Malay word for "clean."[19]
    The first Bersih rally on 10 November 2007 was estimated to have drawn between 30,000 to 50,000 people.[16][20] It was broken up by police using tear gas and chemical-laced water cannons.[16][21] The rally was said to play a major role in helping the opposition parties make big gains in the 2008 general election.[20][22]
    Bersih 2.0, as the organisation has branded itself for the 2011 rally, is chaired by former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan. Ambiga served as president of the Bar from 2007 to 2009 and is a recipient of the U.S. State Department's International Women of Courage Awards.[23][24]

    [edit] Demands

    Ambiga has summed up the main issues raised by the organisation she leads as "unhappiness... in the Sarawak [election], unhappiness about corruption, [and] unhappiness about the independence of our institutions."[25] She said demands made during the first rally in 2007 have not been addressed, hence the follow-up rally.[20]
    The communiqué issued by Bersih issued in 2007 called for reforms to Malaysia's first past the post electoral system, ensuring the independence of the Election Commission (EC), eliminating electoral practices deemed unfair to opposition candidates, eliminating corrupt campaign practices, equal access to the media for all political parties, and instituting a caretaker government during election periods, among others in the long term.[26] It also asked for immediate action to introduce indelible ink to prevent multiple voting, the abolition of postal votes, a complete revision of the electoral roll and equal access to state-owned media for all political parties.[26] A statement on 15 June also called for:[27]
    After agreeing to abandon plans for a street demonstration, Bersih also called for a Royal Commission into election practices.[28]