Polls code violators to be shamed
Writer: Lee Choon Fai
Published: Fri, 05 Apr 2013
KUALA LUMPUR: Participants of the 13th General Election risk being shamed by an electoral watchdog should they fail to campaign in a respectful manner.
The Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) chairperson Datuk S Ambiga said those who fail to abide by the code are not fit to be the people’s representatives.
Ambiga (centre), flanked by Samad and Maria, launches the code of conduct with representatives from other NGOs.
“They wish to come into our Parliament but if they don’t respect our laws then they don’t deserve to be there,” said Ambiga yesterday.
Among the 13 resolutions of the code are prohibiting hate speech, smear campaigns, political violence, election offences such as vote-buying, and allowing journalists and observers the freedom to perform their duties.
Ambiga said they are only asking for the “bare minimum” in accordance with international standards and local laws and members of Parliament from both sides of the divide cannot feign ignorance.
“Malaysia is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) and is bound by the highest standards of ethical conduct in elections, they cannot say that they are not aware,” said Ambiga.
Bersih 2.0 will be using the mass media as their eyes and ears to monitor the conduct of political parties and their respective candidates. Whoever breaches the code of conduct will be “named and shamed” similar to the watchdog’s previous initiative of countering political violence.
Ambiga said the offending individuals will be placed on their blacklist but will be given a fair chance to rectify their mistakes, failing which Bersih 2.0 will be spreading their misdeeds all over the internet.
“The people demand the best from the candidates; we will give them a chance and if they rectify it then they won’t remain in the blacklist,” she added.
“We will be fair to them, but the ultimate punishment will be from the people.”
Currently, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, both Umno MPs, risk being blacklisted.
Hishammuddin accused Pakatan Rakyat (PR) of being responsible for inciting political violence despite the latter being on the receiving end in most instances.
Ambiga said his failure to condemn and shifting blame instead could be seen as condoning the instigators.
Ahmad Zahid, on the other hand, posted on Twitter that “We shall move to the war zone to kill all adverse political intruders” shortly after the dissolution of Parliament on April 3.
Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Maria Chin Abdullah said several campaign posters put up by Barisan Nasional (BN) violated election laws as the name of the publisher is not shown.
The posters also include images and phrases that indirectly suggest the opposition equals violence and chaos while BN represents transformation and peace.
Asked whether DAP’s Hew Kuan Yau, who is infamous for his coarse and vulgar language, will also be taken to task, Ambiga and Maria said the watchdog would look into it.
Also at the press conference were Bersih 2.0 co-chairperson Datuk A Samad Said, representatives from Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), Community Communications Centre (Komas), Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia (Ikram), Tenaganita and Amnesty International.