Friday, July 22, 2011

Malaysia needs free and fair elections, says former Umno minister

July 22, 2011
The Malaysian Insider


KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — A former Umno minister and lawmaker has reminded the Najib administration to uphold its “responsibility” in ensuring that free and fair elections are conducted in Malaysia.

Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, who was Tourism Minister during the Mahathir administration, urged the government to engage with electoral reforms group Bersih, and reminded Barisan Nasional (BN) that one of the key reasons why it lost its two-thirds majority in 2008 was its failure to listen to Bersih’s demands back then.

Abdul Kadir said that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) managed to win 48 per cent of the country’s popular vote with Bersih’s support.

“A free and fair elections is very fundamental,” he said in a speech at the launch of Angkatan Amanah Merdeka (Amanah) here. “Why can’t we engage them (Bersih 2.0)?”

Abdul Kadir is deputy president of Amanah, led by former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Amanah aims to push for racial unity, good governance and respect for the federal constitution.

“The government will know whether elections are clean or not,” Abdul Kadir said. “Clean up the elections system so that people can choose the government they want.”

He proposed that the Election Commission (EC) include PR lawmakers as part of the commission to allow transparent scrutiny of the election body.

Abdul Kadir said “the year is 2011” and that Malaysians were more educated and demanded a fair and just government administration.

“You must have a good and clean government. Right now money is being spent everywhere; is it accounted for? I cannot sleep at night thinking about it.

“I’m happy that the government is against corruption, but do it properly. Jangan cakap tak serupa bikin (don’t say what you don’t mean),” he added.

Bersih estimates that 50,000 people showed up at the July 9 rally for free and fair elections despite efforts to prevent it from taking place, while police have said there were only 6,000.

The protest turned chaotic when police fired tear gas and water cannon at thousands of demonstrators, resulting in nearly 1,700 arrests, scores injured and the death of former military man Baharuddin Ahmad, 59.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has said it will hold a public inquiry into police conduct during the rally following reports that they used excessive force to disperse protesters.

Police yesterday cleared themselves of wrongdoing following an internal probe into alleged police brutality, and have instead laid blame on Bersih protesters for provoking the police.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has accused the Bersih group of trying to seize power through mass rallies, while dismissing the electoral reform group’s allegations of poll fraud.

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