Bersih questions Pakatan and Bersatu’s commitment to reforms

  • Nation
  • Monday, 31 Dec 2018

PETALING JAYA: Bersih 2.0 has questioned if the Pakatan Harapan government and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) specifically are committed to electoral and institutional reform.

The electoral reforms group said it was “shocking” for Bersatu vice-president Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman to suggest that the party use its position to channel resources and projects to division chiefs so that they can win elections “by hook or by crook”.

“Has Abdul Rashid and the cheering delegates forgotten so quickly why Malaysians rejected the previous Umno/ Barisan Nasional government just seven months ago?

"The abuse of power by the ruling elites through the channelling of government resources, corruption and political patronage was such a revolting stench that Malaysians united to say ‘enough is enough’ on May 9,” it said in a statement on Monday (Dec 31).

Abdul Rashid’s remark came during his winding-up speech at the Bersatu AGM, and was widely applauded by the delegates.

He appeared to have taken aim at Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who had earlier called for a halt to the culture of awarding contracts to personal associates.

“If we have won, we will have to win (the next general election) by whatever way possible, by hook or by crook,” Abdul Rashid had said.

In its statement, Bersih said to be the government was "not a reward, but a responsibility entrusted to politicians by the people".

“Serve diligently, effectively and honestly and the people will renew the contract every five years.

“Abuse your power to enrich yourselves and those you favour, and the people will take that power away from you and the law will be brought to bear on you,” it said.

Bersih 2.0 also urged Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to deal with the root of corruption by hastening the implementation of reforms, such as:

a) Enact an Administrative Neutrality Act to deal with cronyism patronage, the abuse of government resources and public power for partisan purposes.

Those who commit the crime should face criminal prosecution while those who fail to justify their acts may be subject to administrative penalties such as termination of service, demotion or transfer.

The PM has to stop this culture and mentality of turning government into party’s feast lest PH becomes the very image of the old government it deposed.

b) Enact the Political Financing Control Act to introduce transparency in political financing and establish rules on access to political funding, limits on contributions, expenditures, disclosures.

The Bill should act as a measure against the appropriation and misuse of funds belonging to the government by political parties, as in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. This is Promise 18 in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto and it should be introduced without delay.

c) Enhance the status, autonomy and power of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) through constitutional and legal amendments.

As stated in Promise 14 of the PH manifesto, the MACC should be answerable to Parliament and its commissioners vetted and validated by Parliament.

d) Empower the Election Commission with prosecutorial power to ensure that political parties, candidates and their agents comply with election laws and that there will be a level playing field for all competing parties and to ensure that the incumbent government will not use government machineries and resources to win elections.

"Without these reforms, the battle against political corruption is a losing battle and it would be a matter of time before we have more scandals where we will see our government-linked companies (GLCs) being used to enrich politicians and those connected to them, and see more national institutions like Felda, Tabung Haji, 1MDB and EPF being plundered,” Bersih said.

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