Bersih 2.0: More can be done to improve MoU for bipartisan cooperation

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The federal government and the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition signing a historic memorandum of understanding (MoU) to ink their bipartisan cooperation, September 13, 2021. — Picture courtesy of Prime Minister’s Office
The federal government and the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition signing a historic memorandum of understanding (MoU) to ink their bipartisan cooperation, September 13, 2021. — Picture courtesy of Prime Minister’s Office

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has lauded the historic bipartisan memorandum of understanding (MoU) for political cooperation between the government and Pakatan Harapan (PH) but cautioned both parties that more can be done to improve the agreement.

In a statement today, the Bersih 2.0 steering committee expressed its concerns on several aspects of the agreement that it said could be improved, such as judicial independence and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA6).

“Even though the matters which were prescribed in the Memorandum of Understanding are good, but there are aspects of improvement that could be included.

“We are worried that the matters pertaining to the independence of the judiciary and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 in the MPTKP (Memorandum of Understanding on Political Transformation and Stability) is too general and does not contain specific and concrete reform measures that can be monitored to ensure implementation. There are also many other very important institutional improvement issues that are left behind,” said the committee in a statement today.

Other aspects that should be improved included the enactment of the equal constituency development fund (CDF) Act where each parliamentary constituency will receive an equal and fair amount of allocation instead of depending on the discretion of the government.

Bersih 2.0 also reiterated the need for the appointment process of judges to be reformed and the Judicial Appointments Commission be upgraded to constitutional status.

Other improvements in the legal sphere also included the establishment of a separate and independent commission for Judicial and Legal services, respectively and that the role of Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) be separated from the role of the public prosecutor.

Bersih 2.0 also called for the Political Financing Act to be reviewed and tabled in Parliament for approval, immediately along with reforms in the Electoral Commission before GE15, with appointments to the commission are based on merit and integrity.

Finally, the electoral watchdog also stated the need for absentee voting to be extended to voters working outside of each voting constituency such as Sabah and Sarawak voters working in the peninsula and vice versa.

There is also the need for an extension of postal voting to Malaysians living in Brunei, Singapore, southern Thailand and Kalimantan and that domestic postal voting category should also be abolished and replaced with an extension of the voting period or an extension of the early voting category.

Bersih 2.0 also reiterated its stance that reforms of the country’s institutions and political system be implemented immediately through the spirit of consensus across party lines.

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