Tensions rise in Bersih, Election Commission’s war of words


DECEMBER 07, 2013

Bersih leader Maria Chin Abdullah has been labelled ‘arrogant and cocky’ by EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof for a petition drive calling for all commission officials to step down. – The Malaysian Insider pic, December 7, 2013.The war of words between the Election Commission (EC) and electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 continued, with both picking apart each other's arguments.

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof yesterday labelled the new leader of Bersih, Maria Chin Abdullah, as "arrogant and cocky", for launching a petition drive seeking the removal of all commission officials.

Bersih in a statement yesterday evening expressed its disappointment that Abdul Aziz had resorted to name-calling instead of addressing long-standing and substantiated concerns.

The watchdog said, "The integrity of the EC's work has been questioned on numerous occasions but Abdul Aziz does not seem to be bothered with addressing these concerns."

Abdul Aziz, who took offence to Maria Chin's statement, had said: "When one is elected to lead an organisation, the person must be friendly to others. I would expect Maria to start afresh and work with the EC.

"As I see it, she is arrogant and cocky to start a petition to the king to pressure the current EC members to resign."

To this, Bersih ticked off the EC for denying responsibility and accountability for the failure of the indelible ink during the 13th general election.

"The recently released statement by the EC admitted to the failure of the indelible ink, but evaded taking responsibility for the fiasco."

Issues acknowledged by the EC include: ink stained ballot papers, a lack of explanation on the implementation of the indelible ink, and the ineffectiveness of the ink as it could be washed off easily.

"While the EC stated that improvements to the ink were made based on feedback, they did not acknowledge flaws in procurement process of the indelible ink, which cost taxpayers RM7.1 million.

"The EC did not even take responsibility for its ludicrous excuses following widespread discontent over the failure of the indelible ink," said Bersih.

The watchdog also scoffed at the EC's claims that the ink's sub-par quality was because the ink had to be halal, despite the widespread use of the indelible ink in Muslim-majority countries.

"The EC claimed that a solution of more than 1% of silver nitrate was carcinogenic.

"But a chemist testified during the Bersih People's Tribunal that a 10% to 18% silver nitrate solution would not pose a health hazard."

Bersih added that the EC ducked giving any substantial explanation to concerns over the integrity of the electoral roll, saying:

"Abdul Aziz also chose to deny that his predecessor Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman had made statements regarding gerrymandering during delineation exercise."

Bersih said it would engage these issues soon but only with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. – December 7, 2013.