Press Statement, 26 April 2013
Respect the Rule of Law
PEMANTAU is alarmed to hear of an incident where a car belonging to the daughter of Parti Keadilan Rakyat candidate for Seri Andalas, Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, was set on fire last night. While this incident was not observed by PEMANTAU, we are highlighting it as part of our continued concern over the rising political violence in the country, as outlined in a statement by BERSIH 2.0 on 25 April.
PEMANTAU volunteers observed several instances where political speeches were marred by the use of language which could be construed to be spreading hostility and ill-will at worst, and defamatory at best. At a 22 April Barisan Nasional ceramah in SRJK (C) Sungai Buloh, Selayang, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak allegedly exhorted voters to refrain from “experimenting” with possible disaster, with vague implications of a racial clash should Barisan Nasional lose the elections.
At a Barisan Nasional event at Jalan Wira in the constituency of Titiwangsa on 22 April, UMNO’s Johari Ghani was reported to have taken a swipe at the opposition by alleging that the opposition had encouraged students not to re-pay their study loans. Citizen observers, BERSIH 2.0 and Tindak Malaysia were also accused of harbouring the intention to cause chaos and prevent voters from exercising their voting rights.
These incidents fit a larger pattern nationwide of the use of aggressive language, hostile sentiments and smear campaigns against political opponents. In page 35 of The Star‘s printed edition, dated 25 April, an advertisement titled “Who controls DAP?” was clearly intended to incite religious and ethnic intolerance among Malay-Muslims and other ethnicities and religious communities. The fanning of such sentiments is especially irresponsible at this time.
In addition, sexist messages were also employed against women candidates. Publicly distributed pamphlets implied that Kulai DAP candidate Teo Nie Ching would desert her constituents to nurse her baby. The caption reads that the woman would be back to breastfeed the baby after she had finished hoodwinking her constituents. Another pamphlet depicted her as using her physical appearance to entice male voters. It is disheartening that more than a decade after the non-discrimination clause in the Constitution was amended to include gender, such regressive sexism is still used as a political tool.
Treating is observed to be a problem during the campaign period so far. In Selayang, a PEMANTAU observer reported that goodie bags bearing the Barisan Nasional logo and a photo of the caretaker Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak were distributed to the general public at a housing area. PEMANTAU reminds political parties that treating is an offence under section 8 of the Election Offences Act 1954. The habitual dismissal of provisions intended to ensure that elections are clean and fair erodes public respect for the rule of law.
The misuse of government property for campaigning appears to be happening with impunity. At the Barisan Nasional ceramah by the caretaker Prime Minister at SRJK (C) Sungai Buloh, there were reports of a government-owned vehicle with ‘Menteri’ on its registration plate. Minor children between the age of 12 to 18 were also alleged to be used for campaigning purposes, donning attire conveying messages of support and love for Barisan Nasional and caretaker Prime Minister. Najib also allegedly claimed to have given RM100 to students at the school, which can be construed as vote-buying.
Similarly, at a Pakatan Rakyat event, PEMANTAU observers had reported the wrongful use of state-owned property for campaigning at a ceramah by PKR’s G. Manivannan Gowindasamy at Taman Eng Ann in Klang, Selangor on 24 April.
PEMANTAU is alarmed to hear concerns by its observers in Johor that voters are “disappearing” from the electoral roll. BERSIH 2.0 and Pusat KOMAS have also received similar complaints from members of the public. Since BERSIH 2.0′s last submission of a compilation of public complaints to the Election Commission in mid-March, it has received a further 110 complaints. Of these, six of the complainants were regular voters (pengundi biasa), but could not find their records when they checked the EC’s online database.
We urge everyone in the same situation to immediately submit a complaint to the EC and to notify us through a special online form, which can be accessed through the BERSIH 2.0 and PEMANTAU websites. Our PEMANTAU team in Johor will process the complaints.
Finally, PEMANTAU believes that the EC must provide immediate assurance on the secrecy of the ballot, transparency, and security of postal voting. BERSIH 2.0 has been inundated by calls and e-mails from members of the public concerned about postal voting. While we believe that the secrecy of the ballot can be preserved in the postal voting process, it is the EC’s responsibility to communicate accurate, thorough and consistent information to Malaysians.
PEMANTAU Pilihan Raya Rakyat (PEMANTAU) comprises of:
Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections 2.0 (BERSIH 2.0)
Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (MAFREL)
For further enquiries, please contact the BERSIH 2.0 secretariat
at 03-77723275 or 019-4380428.