PUTRAJAYA: The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) has called on the government to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the 14th general election, in addition to demanding the resignations of the six other Election Commission (EC) commissioners.
A statement by its steering committee today said that while Bersih 2.0 welcomes EC Chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah's decision to opt for early retirement, the six commissioners should tender their resignations immediately because of their failure to uphold, defend and implement the democratic right to vote as well as the principles of clean, free and fair elections.
“We question the delay in Hashim's decision as calls for his removal have been made known since the 14th general election was held on May 9 and to remind the authorities to ensure that no critical information or evidence regarding possible tampering, manipulation and rigging of the election was destroyed, modified or hidden away.”
The committee opined that Mohd Hashim's retirement is not the sacking borne out of acknowledgement of the EC's lack of competency, integrity and credibility.
“That there are still six commissioners in the EC, we further call for a RCI to be set up to look into electoral fraud and offences which took place during the 14th general election, and to investigate the role played by the commissioners in addressing these issues – or lack thereof.”
The RCI, the committee suggested, must be completed within six months of its inception.
“With the position of EC chairperson vacant, Bersih 2.0 views this as an opportunity for the government to show its commitment for electoral reform by appointing a person with high integrity and reform-minded who will assist in reforming the electoral system as outlined in Bersih 2.0's Election Reform Action Plan.
“As an interim measure to fill the current vacant position of EC chair, we call on the Prime Minister to be open and transparent in this exercise of searching for the best candidate.”
The committee said nominees from the civil society and the public should also be considered for the post.
Mohd Hashim will cut short his tenure as chairman of the EC with effect from July 1, according to a notification by the EC corporate communications division in a statement yesterday.
The commission said Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V consented to the decision and Mohd Hashim was informed through a letter from the Comptroller of the Royal Household on June 7.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was also informed of the matter via an official letter on June 11.
Mohd Hashim, 64, joined the EC on September 5, 2014 before being appointed chairman on January 24, 2016.
His term was intended to expire upon him reaching the age of 66, in accordance with Clause 3 Article 114 of the Federal Constitution.
However, Mohd Hashim's tenure has been tainted with allegations of him being aligned with the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration, as well as manipulating the election in favour of certain parties.
Mohd Hashim has denied such accusations, citing the results in favour of Pakatan Harapan as an example of the EC acting in a “fair and transparent” manner.