Bersih raises fears of poll fraud despite Najib's promise of integrity
KUALA LUMPUR- Malaysia's electoral reforms group Bersih repeated concerns on Wednesday over alleged discrepancies in the electoral roll and possible violence during the country's upcoming general election, despite acknowledging Prime Minister Najib Razak's promise of integrity in the polls.
The Bersih co-chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan said Datuk Seri Najib's pledge to ensure a peaceful transition of power was a "given", particularly in a country that claims to practice "true democracy".
"It is good that he reiterated it but that is a given in any true democracy... the fact that democracy must be respected," she told The Malaysian Insider, shortly after PM Najib announced the dissolution of Parliament.
"But what we want to see now is a healthy campaign and a level playing field for all contesting parties, whether in the matter of access to media or on political violence.
"We do not want to see dirty politics and we hope that all parties will be on their highest, most ethical level of conduct," she said.
In his televised address to announce Parliament's dissolution this morning, Datuk Seri Najib promised that there would be a peaceful transition of power should there be a change in the federal government after the election.
"We respect democracy, we are committed to our political transformation, we are committed to respect the voice of the rakyat," he said.
Datuk Ambiga said many alleged discrepancies in the voter registry were yet to be cleaned out and a high voter turnout was the best way to minimise the effects of electoral fraud.
In Election 2008, 76 per cent out of 10.7 million registered voters turned up to vote, amounting to about 8.16 million voters.
Datuk Ambiga told the Insider that she hoped for at least an 85 per cent voter turnout, pointing out that five to 10 per cent could make a difference.
"Any increase will help reduce or mitigate the fraud," the Insider quoted her as saying.
Voting is not compulsory in Malaysia.
Bersih and other groups have complained of dubious voters - from dead people to non-Malaysians - dubbed as "phantom voters". While the Election Commission has pledged to clean up the rolls, its efforts have not satisfied Bersih.
Bersih's observers will be at stations to register complaints from voters and also to watch for unusual occurrences like voters arriving by the busloads.