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Thread: PSC: Pakatan declares PSC a failure

  1. #1
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    Oct 2008

    PSC: Pakatan declares PSC a failure

    Pakatan declares polls reform panel a failure

    UPDATED @ 09:39:10 PM 02-04-2012
    By Clara Chooi
    April 02, 2012
    KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) representatives in the government-mooted parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reforms complained today the panel had failed to meet its objectives, despite six months of heated discussions and at least six public hearings.

    The members, Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak), Hatta Ramli (PAS-Kuala Krai) and Anthony Loke (DAP-Rasah), told a press conference here that the bipartisan panel had fallen short of expectations as it had completely neglected to address “fundamental issues” surrounding concerns over the country’s election system.

    Key among these, said Azmin (picture), was the call to clean up the current voter registry, which civil society groups and PR leaders have alleged are fraught with discrepancies.

    The trio said today they have filed a motion notice with the Dewan Rakyat Speaker’s office under Standing Order 30(1) calling for amendments to be made to the PSC’s final report.

    “This is so the Speaker can take note of our intention to amend the motion to be tabled on the PSC report, to attach a minority report to it,” Azmin said.

    When asked about PR’s next plan of action should its motion be rejected, Azmin declined to comment, expressing confidence that Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia would give fair consideration to the proposal.

    “Because this is an important motion... I am confident the Speaker will give a positive response.

    “So we can debate this motion before the PSC report is tabled,” said Hatta.
    The PSC’s 22-point report, which comprises its final recommendations for electoral reforms in Malaysia, was distributed to all members of the House today but it has been placed under strict embargo until 11.30am tomorrow when it is tabled for debate.

    The nine-member committee had sat for its final meeting last Wednesday but ended a five-hour discussion in disagreement when those across the political divide were forced to “agree to disagree” on several key issues.

    Bersih 2.0 recently warned of a possible “Bersih 3.0 rally” should the Najib administration fail to implement meaningful reforms to the country’s electoral process. — file pic

    “What we are disappointed about is that on March 28, the panel held its final meeting to finalise its recommendations in the final report but it did not take into account the views of our members to include a minority report that will give a more detailed explanation of the fundamental issues involving the electoral roll, which the Election Commission (EC) has yet to clean,” said Azmin.He reiterated that the panel’s members from PR had already presented much documented evidence showing discrepancies in the voter registry, which the EC has yet to address.

    “We, on behalf of PR, were a part of the committee, we tried our level best to push for total reform in the electoral process.

    “Unfortunately, this committee has failed to look at the entire proposal by civil society and individuals in preparing the final report... yes, they addressed some issues but they are not among the fundamental issues,” he said.

    Apart from electoral roll discrepancies, disgruntled PSC sources had last week also railed against the panel’s failure to address other key requests for reforms such as the scrapping of the postal voting system, ensuring free and fair access to the media and an extension of the election campaign period to up to 21 days.
    These requests were among those proposed to the government by election watchdog Bersih 2.0, which last year organised a mammoth rally on the capital’s streets to demand free and fair polls.

    The PSC was mooted shortly after the chaotic rally, which saw over a thousand arrests and even one death, when the Najib administration earned widespread criticism in the foreign media for its allegedly high-handed approach when cracking down on the event.

    Bersih 2.0 recently warned of a possible “Bersih 3.0 rally” should the administration fail to implement meaningful reforms to the country’s electoral process before the 13th general election is called. PR lawmakers have voiced their support for such an event.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2008
    PSC proposes total restructure of EC to guarantee independence

    By Clara Chooi April 03, 2012

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — The parliamentary select committee (PSC) for polls reform has recommended a total revamp of the Election Commission's (EC) structure to ensure its independence, including increasing its enforcement powers, manpower and placing it directly responsible to Parliament.

    In the PSC's report tabled to Parliament today, it was recommended that the EC be permitted to hold its own budget and that a "Services Commission" be formed to allow the authority to appoint its own officers.

    "This is to ensure the EC's independence will never again be questioned," the PSC report said.

    The report also suggested the preparations of a "special services scheme" for the EC members.

    "The committee also recommends that to reject allegations against the EC's independence, the apointment of the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and EC members must all be similar to the appointments of the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and High Court judges," the PSC said.

    At present, Article 114 of the Federal Constitution states that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, after consultation with the Conference of Rulers, shall appoint the EC members, which includes one chairman, deputy and five other members.

    The PSC also took note of the "limited human resources" in the EC currently and its dependence on other authorities in carrying out its functions.

    "The committee recommends that based on the EC's burden and wide scope of duties, the EC's organisational structure needs to be revamped to grant it power to ensure that the enforcement of election laws is carried out by its own enforcement division," the PSC said in the report, saying that this would help reduce the EC's dependency on other enforcement agencies.

    The PSC added that the EC should also increase its manpower, upgrade current posts as well as provide them with adequate financial allocations "appropriate to the their roles, responsibilities, burdens and current challenges".


  3. #3
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    Polls reform: Gov't poised on the brink

    COMMENT Today Parliament will debate its select committee's (PSC) report on electoral reform.

    Already, the three Pakatan Rakyat MPs on the panel have notified the House speaker of their dissatisfaction with the report and intention to attach a minority report to the committee's 22-page document.

    The Pakatan trio's main grouse is that the panel has not addressed the outstanding issue raised by electoral reform pressure group, Bersih, whose successful demonstration of July 9 last year forced the government to set up a parliamentary select committee on the matter.

    After six months of study and meetings on the issue, the panel headed by Maximus Ongkili will table its report today.

    And already, judging from the initial reaction of the Pakatan MPs on the panel and from vibes emanating from Bersih sources, the select committee's endeavour to bring closure to the issue is headed for failure.

    The word on the grapevine is that Bersih has begun plans to stage what would be its third public march to exert pressure for electoral reform later this month.

    Even a successful attachment of a minority report to the PSC's main one would not be able to head off this march, should Bersih's key demand that the rolls be cleaned up is not placated.

    A third march would underscore the total futility of the entire government exercise in allaying public concern over electoral discrepancies that have been festering over the last year.

    Another confrontation

    Because a general election is the final arbiter of distempers in the body politic, a clean electoral register is the key to the whole issue of whether the exercise of the vote is free and fair.

    Just the fact that there are some 80,000 people registered in just over 300 addresses in the electoral register are enough grounds to make imperative a clean-up of the rolls by a body independent of the Election Commission.

    This is the best way to avert another confrontation between the government and electoral pressure group Bersih.

    We are in the immediate prelude to the 13th general election. It has been said so often about it that the description is in danger of becoming a cliché - the poll is the most critical in our country's history.

    The number 13 is imbedded in the national psyche as a figure with sinister connotations because of its connection with the May 13 riots of 1969 that followed in the wake of the country's 3rd general election held that year.

    The signs point that the number's infamy would be reinforced should the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak decide to go ahead with the 13th general election without a clean-up of the electoral rolls - the principal demand of Bersih.

    Will the gov't commit a second folly?

    Bersih is going to ratchet up the tempo of public pressure for a clean-up of the rolls should the government railroad the PSC's report through the House without the attachment of the minority report.

    In other words, the confrontation of last July, which surprised the powers-that-be by the size and racial diversity of the crowds Bersih drew to its banner, will be re-enacted.

    More iconic figures like 'Aunty Ooi' (centre in photo) of ‘Lady of Liberty' fame would likely well up from the depths of public concern over this pivotal issue of our times.

    Last July, the government sailed into the confrontation, blithely indifferent to the magnitude of public concern over the need for electoral reform.

    The size and relative youth of the crowds that turned up for another emotive public issue, the anti-Lynas rally in Kuantan in February, also took the authorities by surprise.

    A public long roused to awareness of an issue of signal importance they feel the authorities are attempting to defuse with placatory measures that are a sham is not likely to relent in its opposition.

    With protest phenomena such as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street blowing subversive ripples of resonance across the face of benighted regimes in parts of Asia, the government here should not commit a second folly to follow upon the first faux pas last July when they underestimated Bersih's power to galvanise public support.

    The government is poised on the brink of another probable miscalculation should it misread public support for electoral reform.

    The least it has to do in the circumstances is to clean up the polls register. It cannot call a general election with the discrepancies that taint the existing ledger.

    TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for close on four decades. He likes the occupation because it puts him in contact with the eminent without being under the necessity to admire them. It is the ideal occupation for a temperament that finds power fascinating and its exercise abhorrent.


  4. #4
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    Oct 2008

    No such thing as a minority report, says Pandikar

    S Pathmawathy & Hazlan Zakaria
    1:09PM Apr 3, 2012

    The Dewan Rakyat has rejected Pakatan Rakyat's motion to append a minority report to the report of the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reform.

    Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia (right) rejected the motion filed yesterday on the ground that there is no provision under the Standing Orders that gives him the "power" to change the report.

    "There is no such thing as a minority report, only dissenting views," said Pandikar, citing excerpts of parliamentary practice in New Zealand.

    The rejection, however, had opposition MPs arguing that there is precedent for minority reports to be attached to reports in other Parliaments in the Commonwealth.
    At a press conference later in the Parliament lobby, PSC chairperson Maximus Ongkili said the dissenting views of the three opposition MPs who sat on the committee have been included in the full report.

    "It is already inside. So what's the question about the minority report?" he asked.

    He acknowledged that the trio had informed the panel of the opposition’s intention to submit a minority report but said they did not hand in a draft of the document.

    In any case, they had only disagreed with four of the 22 recommendations of the committee.

    "So I told (the panel) to vote on (this) and the majority vote was to maintain the report as is."
    'Room provided for dissent'

    Maximus said he had given the trio space in the report to record their dissent to the four points.
    He suggested that they submit their document to the House, if the speaker allows it, instead of trying to append it to the PSC report.

    Responding to opposition claims that the committee had failed in its duty to promote electoral reform, Maximus said this is a politically motivated jibe.

    "If we have failed, why did they stay until the end? ... If they want to use it for political mileage, (then) for goodness' sake please be sensible," he said.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2008
    NUJ: Let media personnel decide

    K Pragalath and Tarani Palani
    | April 3, 2012
    Responding to the PSC's recommendation, the journalists' union says media personnel should be given a choice to vote as a ordinary voter or postal voter.

    PETALING JAYA: Media personnel should be given the option to choose if they want to vote as postal voters or cast their ballots on polling day at their respective constituencies, said the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

    “Journalists must have that option,” said the union’s general secretary V Anbalagan in reaction to the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms recommendation that journalists be registered as postal voters.

    The nine-member PSC had proposed 22 recommendations to improve the electoral process and the matter was tabled in Parliament this morning.

    On the proposal which called for equal access in all media organisations, Anbalagan said the broadcast media, especially RTM and BernamaTV, should allocate airtime based on the number of seats a party was contesting.

    He added that when there were reports attacking a particular candidate, the candidate must be given air time to explain.

    “The candidate has a right to reply and it also avoids defamation suits,” he said, adding that it was now just a matter of implementation.

    Overseas voters

    On the PSC’s proposal regarding Malaysian voters abroad, Andrew Yong from My Overseas Vote saw no problem with returning home once in five years to vote.

    “But we are afraid that this may give the Election Comission an excuse to delay the process of Malaysians overseas to vote. The EC even has trouble locating deaths within the system, how are they going to keep track when the numerous Malaysians come back (at different periods),” he said.

    The PSC recommended that Malaysians overseas be allowed to cast their votes through Malaysian diplomatic missions or by post.

    As for the proposal for Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems (MIMOS) to assist in cleaning up the electoral roll, the EC was blamed for causing confusion over the applications with regard to ordinary voters and absentee voters.

    “Displaying both the applications is the right process,” said acting director of National Institute for Democracy and Electoral Integrity (NIEI) K Shan.

    “There is a misunderstanding of the processes. The EC should have addressed this from before. Make it clear what the processes are without having so many parties highlighting numerous irregularities,” he added.

    Shan also questioned the accuracy of the MIMOS report as it was conducted by one party.

    In its report to the PSC, the agency had not found any identical MyKad numbers registered to one particular individual.

    Election commissioners should step down

    Election watch dog Tindak Malaysia meanwhile demanded EC office bearers to step down since they lacked willpower to carry out their duties.

    “If they think they are not capable of carrying out their duties, then do the honorable thing. Step down,” said Tindak Malaysia representative, Wong Piang Yow.

    He said this in response to recommendations made by the PSC on electoral reforms that a law be studied to empower the EC to remove legitimate voters’ name from the master voters’ list or to transfer a voter based on complaints and evidence.

    He also queried the need for a new law for EC to have more bite to remove dubious voters’ names from the voters roll. The group sees the move as a waste of time.

    “Why create new laws when the EC already has the power under existing laws and regulations?” asked Wong


  6. #6
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    Oct 2008
    There's no debate. So much for consultation.

    PSC report approved, trio get the boot

    G Vinod
    | April 3, 2012
    Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia approves the report on electoral reforms without debate and gives the marching orders to three opposition MPs.
    KUALA LUMPUR: Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia approved the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) report on electoral reforms without calling for a debate and gave three opposition MPs the marching orders.

    He made the decision after an heated exchange erupted in the House, leading the Speaker to order PKR MPs R Sivarasa and Azmin Ali as well as PAS MP Dzulkefly Ahmad to leave the House for questioning his stand on not allowing a minority report to be attached with the existing report.

    Earlier, Pandikar dismissed a motion by Pakatan Rakyat MPs to attach a minority report along with the report tabled by PSC chairman Maximus Ongkili this morning.

    He quoted a precedence out of the Parliamentary Practices of New Zealand that did now allow a minority report to be considered but the opposition MPs cited examples to the contrary.

    Following the dismissal of the three MPs, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim stood up and reminded Pandikar that it was the latter that who asked for a precedence in the first place.

    “We gave you the precedence. What else do you want?” he asked.


  7. #7
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    Oct 2008

    Conditions set for postal voters living abroad

    Kuek Ser Kuang Keng
    11:56AM Apr 3, 2012

    PSC REPORT Only overseas Malaysians who have registered as voters and who have returned home at least once in the previous five years will be eligible to register as postal voters, based on an Election Commission (EC) proposal.

    Accepting the conditions, the parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reform has given the EC three months from today to discuss implementation with the relevant authorities.

    Its report, presented to Parliament today, also said the move should be enforced through legislation.

    The five-year period is to be calculated from before the date the elector applies to be a postal voter, said the report.

    The PSC noted that it would be difficult for the EC to allow overseas citizens to vote at Malaysian missions abroad because of the current election system and logistics.

    "This view is supported by feedback from the Foreign Affairs Ministry," the report stated.

    The PSC suggested the EC should study an alternative, such as mailing the ballot papers to overseas voters. The Malaysian missions could then collect and mail these to the EC headquarter for counting.

    Granting absentee voter status to Malaysians abroad to allow them to vote is one of eight demands of the electoral reform coalition Bersih 2.0.

    However, hurdles were raised to another Bersih 2.0 proposal to allow outstation voters, such as those from Sabah and Sarawak who live or work in the peninsula, to vote without returning to their constituency.

    The PSC report said this would be tedious in terms of logistics and human resource needs, while current legal provisions pose additional difficulty to implementation, going by the EC’s testimony to the panel.

    Article 119 of the federal constitution and election regulations do not currently allow voters to vote outside their registered constituency, the EC had said.

    The PSC took note that the proposal requires further study on whether amendments are required to the constitution and election laws.

    It proposed that the EC should study the best method for outstation voters, such as early voting as practised for Malaysians based abroad. No time frame has been set for implementation.

    Postal voting for EC staff, media

    Despite objection from three opposition members in the PSC - Anthony Loke (DAP-Rasah), Hatta Ramli (PAS-Kuala Krai) and Azmin Ali (PKR-Gombak) - the majority of its members voted to allow EC staff and media practitioners who are on duty on polling day to register as postal voters.

    The trio had demanded that these personnel should cast their ballots via the early voting system, which will be introduced for security personnel in the next general election.

    The EC had earlier rejected the proposal on the ground that it would be impossible to gather journalists - who are scattered around the country during the election campaign period - at certain centres for early voting.

    Other PSC members are Maximus Johnity Ongkili (chairperson, BN-Kota Marudu), Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad (BN-Kangar), Fong Chan Onn (BN- Alor Gajah), Alexander Nanta Linggi (BN-Kapit), P Kamalanathan (BN-Hulu Selangor) and Wee Choo Keong (Independent-Wangsa Maju).


  8. #8
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    Oct 2008

    It's amazing that even at this late stage, the EC is still behaving in such a recalcitrant manner. Is there a Big Brother protecting them?

    Will EC objections stymie PSC proposals

    Kuek Ser Kuang Keng
    3:46PM Apr 3, 2012

    PSC REPORT The Election Commission (EC) had completely or partially rejected six of 10 electoral reforms proposed last year in an interim report of the parliamentary select committee (PSC).

    This has raised questions as to whether the six-month effort of the PSC in putting together its final report will bring about significant changes to the electoral system.
    The question is whether the EC will throw its full support behind the bipartisan committee's 22 recommendations that were presented to the Dewan Rakyat today.
    The EC had expressed support for 11 proposals and rejected nine. The remaining two, it said, were out of its purview and require further study.

    In explaining why it had rejected the recommendations in the interim report, the EC had cited constitutional and legal constraints, logistics and practicality.

    These are the main recommendations to which the EC objects, and its reasons:

    1. Granting absentee voter status to overseas Malaysians

    The EC refused to expand the category of absentee voters to all overseas Malaysians as well as allow them to vote early at Malaysian missions abroad due to logistics issues and practicality.

    However, the EC suggested postal voting facilities be provided to them, subject to certain conditions that are still being finalised. Two of these conditions are that overseas citizens are registered as voters and have returned home at least once in the last five years.

    2. Allowing outstation voters to vote without having to return to their constituencies

    The EC refused to implement this in the next general election, but it agreed to further study the proposal in relation to Article 119 of the Federal Constitution, which stipulates that an eligible voter must be a resident in his or her voting constituency.

    3. Application to change voting address must be attached with a statutory declaration

    This proposal is to eliminate the problem of voters using false addresses to change their voting constituencies.

    But the EC argued that it would be a burden to voters because a statutory declaration must be made in front of a commissioner of oaths, whose service is limited to certain areas.

    4. Verification of the Sabah electoral roll

    The PSC raised this proposal after it was alleged that many questionable names were found in the roll.

    However the EC rejected this and said it would focus on efforts to clean up the electoral roll of Sabah with the help of the National Registration Department.

    5. Abolish the RM10 objection fee

    This proposal aims to facilitate members of the public in raising objections to dubious names published in the supplementary electoral roll draft. However, the EC's argument is that it "is not a body that can generate income".

    6. Amend laws to allow objections to the master electoral roll

    The EC disagrees with this.

    The court lost its power to question the master electoral roll when the government through Parliament added an ouster clause, Section 9A, to the Election Act 1958 in 2002. This was done after the High Court declared the Likas by-election result null and void due to 4,197 questionable names in the electoral roll.


  9. #9
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    Bersih 2.0: Electoral fraud will continue

    By Clara Chooi
    April 03, 2012
    KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Election watchdog Bersih 2.0 warned Malaysians today that the coming elections would still be fraught with manipulation, claiming the parliamentary select committee’s (PSC) electoral reform proposals had fallen short of expectations.

    The coalition, which led a rally of thousands in the capital’s streets last July to protest unfair election practices in Malaysia, said in a statement here it was “disappointed” that the panel had not sufficiently addressed many of the key concerns it had raised during the chaotic event.

    The group did not mention its next planned mammoth rally, rumoured to take place by month’s end, but said the Najib administration had sadly missed its “golden opportunity to right the wrongs and do something good for the benefit of Malaysians now and in the future”.

    “Bersih 2.0 is disappointed that... key issues were not with dealt with at all or were not dealt with in sufficient depth.

    “Given this, Bersih 2.0 is of the view that it is highly likely that electoral fraud and other irregularities that are currently being perpetrated in Malaysia... will continue unabated,” it said in a statement here.

    The group also pointed to two major drawbacks in the PSC’s final report tabled today to the Dewan Rakyat — that the existing Election Commission (EC) would have to be the authority to undertake the reforms and that many reform suggestions could have been implemented immediately, instead of delayed further.
    “We note that while some recommendations do provide for a timeframe to report back, many others do not.

    “The lack of a timeline merely prolongs the dissatisfaction and lack of confidence in the electoral system, and adds to the frustration of the rakyat,” Bersih 2.0 said.
    The Malaysian Insider reported earlier today claims from sources within the election watchdog that another rally would be held by the end of the month, possible on April 28, to protest the government’s failure to implement meaningful reforms to the election process.

    This afternoon, the Dewan Rakyat passed the PSC’s 22-point report without debate after Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers, who were also part of the nine-member panel, continued to insist that a minority report be included as part of the panel’s final findings.

    The minority report would have focused on the assertions and views of the PSC’s three PR members, who yesterday had also admitted that the panel had failed to meet its objectives to introduce total reform.

    Of the 22 recommendations in the PSC report, the trio had disagreed with four, including the EC’s proposal to expand postal voting to include media personnel; a proposal to allow “pre-registration” for voters upon reaching the age of 20; increasing the minimum campaign period from seven to 10 days; and a proposal on automatic voter registration.

    Bersih 2.0 said it was “shocked” that the PSC report was passed and adopted by the House today without any debate, adding that this shows a majority of parliamentarians are not very concerned about the extent of irregularities and fraud in the country’s election process.

    “The majority in Parliament do not appear to appreciate the need to strengthen the electoral process in Malaysia,” the group complained.

    It added that the PSC report had not touched on specific instances of manipulation in the current electoral roll, such as the illegal removal of names and changes to polling station boundaries.

    “Bersih 2.0 is of the view that we cannot proceed to the 13th general election based on this electoral roll,” it declared.

    “A thorough study ought to have been conducted into the processes of the Election Commission (EC) and the National Registration Department (NRD),” it added.

    The coalition also pointed out that the PSC report had not made a single reference to allegations that foreigners here have been granted citizenship and voting rights.
    The report also did not touch the issue of election offences and the enforcement of provisions under the Election Offences Act 1954.

    “There ought to also have been a study into the types of such offences being committed, and recommendations on how to prevent them.

    “Although there is a suggestion that the EC be given more powers to deal with such issues, the PSC does not seek to identify the problems and the clear infringements of the Act,” Bersih 2.0 said.

    The PSC report, it added, had also not mentioned allowing international observers into the country during polling day or how to stop dirty politics during campaigning.
    The group disagreed with the PSC’s recommendation to extend the campaign period to up to a mere 10 days, insisting that the minimum duration should be set at 21 days.

    “A decision on the campaign period, which we would remind is something that is decided by the EC, should also take into consideration the provision of sufficient time for election candidates to disseminate their election messages to the electorate and for the voter to consider the issues,” Bersih 2.0 said.

    The bipartisan nine-member PSC was mooted by Datuk Seri Najib Razak last year, months after his administration earned widespread criticism for its handling of Bersih’s rally for free and fair elections on July 9.

    During the rally, thousands thronged the streets of the capital, defying earlier warnings from the government that their participation would result in arrest.
    But the administration’s clampdown, which saw more than 1,000 arrested and even one dead, resulted in a massive backlash for Barisan Nasional, including much condemnation in the international media.


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