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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ambiga tells Najib: Include NGOs in the committee, implement the 8 reforms

Sulaiman Kamal | 2:18 AM | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Bersih chief Ambiga Sreenevasan welcomed the move by Prime Minister Najib Razak to form a bi-partisan parliamentary committee to look into the electoral system, but called for NGOs to be included.
Ambiga, the former Bar Council president, also stressed that Bersih's 8 demands should be carried out before the 13th general election, which many expect to be held this year.
"We welcome this announcement by the Prime Minister. It is a positive response to the Rakyat (people's) misgivings about the electoral process," Ambiga told Malaysia Chronicle.

"I believe that NGOs should be included and that the 8 demands of Bersih must be given priority and be implemented prior to the 13th general election. The other proposals for long-term reforms should also be studied."
Easy to implement
The immediate 8 demands are to clean the electoral roll, reform postal ballots, use of indelible ink, have a minimum 21 days campaign period, free and fair access to media, strengthen public institutions, stop corruption and stop dirty politics.
"The Bersih reforms seem to be fairly easy to implement and hopefully the government will grant the recommendations which are in the interest of the people, who obviously are not very comfortable with the system," Ramon Navaratnam told Malaysia Chronicle.
Najib had surprised the nation when he suddenly called for the establishement of a parliamentary select committee to examine the electoral system.
“A parliamentary select committee will be formed in the nearest time and it will be made up of government and opposition representatives. This committee will discuss all the questions and issues raised about electoral reform so that a mutual agreement can be reached. I, along with my Cabinet, do not want to become PM or a government without the support of the people,” Najib said in a speech at a buka puasa function on Monday.
Members of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim greeted the news cautiously, given Najib's oft-repeated vows that he would defend federal power at all costs including at the expense of "crushed bodies", "lost lives" and "ethnic cleansing".
"This is a belated admission by Najib that there is merit in the call for electoral reform by Bersih and Pakatan Rakyat. I see no sincerity in this move. The government is only reacting to public pressure and the current political climate. We will have to wait and see whether they show real will to reform. A parliamentary committee is pointless if it does not translate into real change," PKR vice president N Surendran told Malaysia Chronicle.
"Let's wait a while and see, I am quite skeptical. But I do agree that if a committee is to be effective it should be broadened to include Bersih, which has been instrumental in awakening the people to their fundamental rights to choose the government that they want," PKR MP for Batu Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.

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