Wednesday, May 22, 2013

malaysiakini and BECOMING a Better Nation

There is this interesting story about a serious mistake in the swearing-in of Ministers before they were appointed as Senators. Some will claim it is a small matter but it does reflect the attitude of national leaders who should know better - now this is a good example of how leaders set the tone for the nation.

The following story is fiction but hope springs eternal. Let us all pray that this will happen.

Following national unrest after the 13GE when the BN received less than 49% of the popular vote but still managed to retain control of the government, the government established a Parliamentary Select Committee to examine and recommend how the election process can be improved so that the concept of “one man, one vote” can be applied more effectively and give Malaysians the opportunity to select the government of their choice.

The Speaker is the Chairman of the PSC for Democratic and Human Rights Practices and he will be explaining the important steps to strengthen democracy and the democratic process for Malaysians.

Since the May 5th GE, it has been unfortunate that many Ministers made mistakes in their new roles and instead of healing the wounds and reconciling Malaysians, some even made matters worse.

These include:
1. The Home Minister asking the Malaysians who do not support the BN to migrate elsewhere.
2. The Minister of Trade advising Malaysian traders that they had the right to boycott business owners who support the opposition.

These public remarks have not helped the domestic economy and many foreign investors have delayed their projects. Our GDP shrank by 2% in the last quarter and unemployment has risen to 5%. The KLCI has also fallen by 100 points in the past 2 months.

The PM realized the challenges facing the economy and wants to address the many issues and truly wants a genuine reconciliation of all Malaysians after the divisive General Elections.

In fact the PSC has been meeting in secret for the past 3 months in order that our work could go on without any outside interference.

All the 9 members, including 4 from the Opposition, are loyal citizens whose main concern is the security and progress of our nation. We agreed to meet and submit this report only to the press and without any conditions from the Prime Minister’s office or the Cabinet.

Such is the state of the nation that you are going to be the first one to be told of our recommendations. We ask that you publish our Press Release in full and then comment on the proposals.

The 13GE saw a record turn-out of voters at 85.4%. This augurs well for Malaysia as it shows that Malaysians want a bigger say in the management of the nation and willing to demonstrate their commitment to the nation.

The BN managed to secure enough seats to retain power; even though it lost the popular votes. This has created unrest among the population as this is the first time the BN has lost the popular vote and exposed many Malaysians to the practice of gerrymandering for the first time.
The Elections Commission implemented many changes in the elections process but there were complaints of missing names and the missing indelible ink is a serious issue.

Here is the summary of our main recommendations: As our work is being reported directly to the Press and not to the Cabinet, it shows that the Prime Minister is sincere in wanting major reforms for Malaysia. We request that you consider the proposals seriously but any constructive feedback can be made directly to the PMO.

At present, the ratio between the largest and smallest constituency is in the order of about 9 – with Putrajaya having 15,000 voters and large towns having more than 100,000. In effect, 1 voter in Putrajaya has the same voting power as 9 voters in a city. This is grossly unfair.

We propose new guidelines for delineation so that by 2016, this discrepancy be reduced to maximum of 2 between any 2 constituencies.
We propose the following to reduce gerrymandering.
Urban seats to have population between 40,000 to 80,000 and will split into 2 after reaching 80,000
Semi-urban seats between 30,000 to 60,000 and will split into 2 after reaching 60,000
Rural seats to have between 20,000 to 40,000 and will split into 2 after reaching 40,000.

The classification between urban, semi-urban and rural seats will removed by 2020 or when the seat reaches the population of the next classification; whichever comes earlier.
In other words by 2020, seat classification is going to become obsolete and we will adopt only one yardstick- the 40,000 guideline.

In order to reduce the effects of gerrymandering in 14GE, all smaller seats like Putrajaya will be merged with an adjacent constituency so that the population criteria will be maintained by 2020.
It is proposed that the postal codes will be the main factor to decide how constituencies will be redrawn.

We propose that the Elections Commission should become an independent body and not operate from the PMO. A PSC to have oversight on Democratic Practices and Human Rights will audit and report all irregularities of the EC to Parliament.

As the RCI on Project IC revealed, some 100,000 foreigners have been given Mykads without proper documentation and the NRD is largely responsible for this problem.

Thus we have established a special task force to re-check all these instant citizens via a 2-stage process.
In stage 1, all will be given a red Mykad and the blue Mykad will have to be returned pending approval. Proper checks will be conducted for birth certificates, citizenship papers, proof of residence, marriage certificates etc before the Mykads are re-issued.
Those who do not qualify will retain their red Mykads and eligible to apply for citizenship after 5 years.

The PSC recognizes the important role of NGOs in a democratic nation like Malaysia. Hence we have agreed that BERSIH officials be appointed to assist in the clean-up of the electoral rolls.

We propose that a caretaker government be appointed during the 14 days of the elections campaign. Also no government machinery will be used for polls campaign and all official cars etc will be surrendered to the caretaker government.
The outgoing PM will appoint a caretaker subject to the approval of Parliament. No special policies may be announced that

The population will enjoy access to all political parties via main stream media like newspapers and government TV stations. The Multi-media Ministry will also educate voters on the voting process and conduct during polls.
It is a shame that some voters were not aware that the indelible ink was only for marking their fingers only – some voters thought the ink was to be used for marking the ballot paper!

As it is the general consensus that the 13GE has too many incidents of fraud, failure of indelible ink, phantom voters and illegal voters to be considered free and fair elections, we propose that the next GE will be fixed in December 2015 to enable ALL Malaysians to have a free hand to decide their future.
All these points will have to be approved by Parliament in a special sitting within 30 days of this Press Conference.

The Prime Minister believes that these proposals will enable Malaysians to understand more clearly the workings of a maturing democracy. We request that newspapers and other media have a special role to play in this great endeavor. With your cooperation we can build a great nation based on truth and justice.

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