PETALING JAYA: The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) released its preliminary report on the 15th General Election (GE15) on Tuesday (Dec 6).
In a statement, the civil society grouping congratulated Malaysians for taking part in the electoral process and noted that democracy was respected and a peaceful transition of power took place.
The preliminary report highlighted some of Bersih's initiatives to promote a clean, fair and free election including monitoring, hotline and fact-checking.
The full text of the preliminary report can be read below:
PRELIMINARY REPORT OF THE 15TH GENERAL ELECTION
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) once again congratulate Malaysians for taking part in the recent 15th General Election (GE15), despite rain and flooding in some areas.
This GE saw no party getting a simple majority to form the government on its own. Nevertheless, democracy was respected and a peaceful transition of power took place.
Throughout the election period, BERSIH carried out several initiatives to call for a clean, fair and free election. BERSIH also took great efforts to encourage high voter turnout on 19 November. Here is a brief report of the initiatives:
1. Election Monitoring
BERSIH formed three teams to monitor the election, they are: Election Observers, Online Monitors (social media) and Media Monitors (press reports).
A total of 100 observers were registered under BERSIH with the Election Commission’s (EC) accredited election observation program called PEMERHATI. The observers attended workshop conducted by the Election Commission as well as BERSIH's own internal training, where we conducted at least three trainings on election offences, election process and general rules when conducting election observations. All observers were given manuals and handbooks to refer to.
Overall, BERSIH’s Election Observers have monitored the proceedings on nomination, early voting, and the voting day across 56 parliamentary constituencies.
On top of that, BERSIH online monitoring also observed political parties and candidates through online platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.
2. Election Monitoring Website
BERSIH launched the Pemantau website (www.pemantau.org). This is a website where general public can easily lodge a report on any election offences committed by any political parties or candidates which they observed during the campaign period and the polling day. Once a report was lodged, our volunteers will then verify the information and facts and once confirmed, it will be recorded in the database. There are 10 categories of electoral offences that BERSIH focused on:
• Corruption and Vote Buying
• Treating and Gifting
• Undue Government Handouts or Inducements
• Use of Government Machinery
• Excessive Spending
• Intimidation and Violent behaviour
• Biased Behaviour by Public Servants and Institutions
• Advanced Voting and Postal Voting
• Polling Day Issues
• Electoral Roll Issues
A total of 208 reports were lodged and 153 of them have been confirmed as election offences.
3. GE15 Hotline and GE15 Fact Checker & FAQ
BERSIH launched an election hotline for the public to make general enquiries on anything related to the GE15. We have received more than 80 WhatsApp message, approximately 193 phone calls, 30 email enquiries, and 28 Facebook messages. These numbers did not include calls or WhatsApp messages the individual steering committee received.
In a nutshell, the questions involved issues relating to postal voting, electoral constituency and to seek clarification on misinformation such as dress code, voting time, etc.
In view of the massive amount of misinformation pertaining to the election process, which if not properly addressed may discredit the election, BERSIH immediately launched the GE15 Fact Checker and FAQ right after the dissolution of Parliament.
The FAQ gathered general questions and provided quick answers, whereas the fact checker picked up viral misinformation and provide the accurate and correct information as a counter measure. This information was released via the Pemantau website and all BERSIH's social media platform, as well as short WhatsApp message for quick circulation.
Some of the misinformation that went viral, for example, were that card reader machines will be used to check MyKad to prevent Indian and Chinese voters from voting; that voter must follow strict dress code on polling day; that voters must vote during suggested voting time otherwise they will be barred, and so on.
4. #VoteFuture Campaign
BERSIH was concerned with the voter turnout for GE15, given the rather low percentage in the recent Melaka and Johor State Election, and coupled with the fact that there are additional 6.2 million voters for GE15 who had not voted before. To encourage high voter turnout, BERSIH launched the #VoteFuture campaign 10 days before the polling day.
The campaign used the concept of "Future" to inspire the Rakyat to vote. We have tagline such as "I will choose my own Future", "My Future, My Vote", "I don't gamble with my Future", "My Future is in my Hand".
In this campaign, we collaborated with The Fourth, a production company, to produce a number videos. These videos featured Malaysians from all walks of life talking about "Voting for our Future".
It was built on a positive and encouraging vibes to encourage the Rakyat to vote. These videos were released on 9 November 2022 and thereafter every day until the polling day on different social media platforms.
It has reached 75,000 unique views on the BERSIH social media sites, as well as through influencers such as Jinnyboy (238,000 views) and Nailah Huda (51,000 views) and many more.
In addition to the videos, VoteFuture campaign also released posters with strong visuals on a daily basis. We have prepared campaign toolkit for the public to download the campaign materials or replicate it themselves. It is a campaign that anyone can participate in anywhere. We also collaborated with AWAM in producing a series of podcast.
In the end, the voter turnout for GE15, according to Election Commission, was 73.89% (not including the delayed Padang Serai and Tioman elections), with a whopping number of 15.5 million Malaysians voted.
5. Hall of Shame
We also highlighted the worst election offences committed throughout the election period by releasing the Hall of Shame poster on the Pemantau website.
6. Launch of "Making Democracy Work: Institutional Reforms for Malaysia"
In time for GE15, BERSIH launched our very first book titled "Making Democracy Work: Institutional Reforms for Malaysia" on 6 November 2022. This is an abridged version of our research papers on various recommendations for institutional reforms.
As stated by Wan Junaidi bin Tuanku Jaafar, "BERSIH's thought leadership in institutional reforms is part of the larger political transformation which has taken place since 2018" and this is the book that contained the research and arguments.
To carry out the initiatives and cover some of the expenses, BERSIH called for public donation through our press statement dated 29/10/2022 and we set out the target of RM100,000.00. We are pleased to announce that as at 29/11/2022, we have raised approximately RM163,125.00 (public donation and solidarity book sale). In summary, we have spent approximately RM60,288.00 for token of appreciation for all volunteers, graphic design, fees for website development, social media and advertisement, audio equipment, and the VoteFuture Campaign.
Every cent received and spent will be reported in the finalised GE15 report to be released in the near future. The remaining unused portion of the donation will be utilised for operational costs as well as future advocacy programs.
BERSIH once again expresses our deepest appreciation to Malaysians who helped, supported and contributed to BERSIH, enabling us to carry out our mandate advocating for a free and fair election and to strenghten the institutions.
Last but not least, we would also like to say a big thank you to all NGOs, especially UNDI18 and Global Bersih who worked very hard to ensure that most overseas ballot papers reached home in time to be counted.
Statement issued by:
BERSIH Steering Committee