02 February, 2008

Bersih Members' Action Disrespectful, Overboard, Says Abdullah




"They're rude and disrespectful. There are other ways to air their protest," he told reporters after attending the Universiti Malaya Alumni Day.

The Prime Minister was asked to comment on the action by Bersih members to tear Rashid's picture as published in the New Straits Times today in protest against the election system in the country.

They claimed the EC's move to introduce the indelible ink in this election was merely a cosmetic change.

The Prime Minister said Rashid had discharged his duties well by conducting elections in a fair, clean, transparent and democratic manner.

He said Bersih members should not have resorted to such action as the EC had met the Opposition's demand to introduce the indelible ink and transparent ballot boxes to ensure this election was more open and transparent.

"If all these while, what it has been done is not good and the changes being made now (in this election) are also not good, bring the matter to court," said Abdullah in a stern voice.

The Prime Minister said the EC had constantly taken appropriate action to ensure the electoral roll was verified and updated and given prompt attention to complaints such as mistakes in voter registration.

Asked whether the government would take action against Bersih members for tearing Rashid's picture, Abdullah said: "We should take action if there are laws that provide for punishment for such actions."



Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi believes that the government should take action against electoral reforms pressure group Bersih for tearing up photocopies of Election Commission chairperson’s picture.




Several Bersih leaders tore pictures of Election Commission (EC) chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman yesterday to protest the latter’s apparent lack of commitment towards electoral reforms.

Commenting on this, Abdullah said that Bersih leaders had been “disrespectful” and had gone overboard in their actions, which he believes is unprecedented.

“They’re rude and disrespectful. There are other ways to air their disapproval,” said Abdullah after attending the Universiti Malaya Alumni Day today.

PM defends Abdul RashidDefending Abdul Rashid’s track record, Abdullah said that he had discharged his duties well and had conducted fair, clean, transparent and democratic elections.

Abdullah also hit out at Bersih members for tearing Abdul Rashid pictures even when the EC had met opposition demands to introduce indelible ink and transparent ballot boxes.

“If all these while, what it has been done is not good and the changes being made now (in this elections) are also not good, bring the matter to court,” said Abdullah, reportedly in a stern voice.

During the last parliamentary sitting in December, Abdullah’s administration had amended the Federal Constitution to extend the 65-year-old age cap for EC Board members to 66.

Critics including Bersih hit out against the move, claiming that it was an attempt to retain Abdul Rashid as EC chairperson for the upcoming general election. Abdul Rashid turned 66 last month.

Abdul Rashid has served as EC since 1979, starting as the commission’s secretary before being appointed chairperson in 2000.

FrustrationExplaining the purpose of tearing up Abdul Rashid’s photo yesterday, Bersih secretariat member Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad said that the coalition wanted to send a message to the former that he was hampering electoral reforms efforts.

Elaborating, Dzulkifli said Abdul Rashid had yet to fulfil Bersih’s demands for ‘clean’ electoral rolls, extending campaigning periods and abolishing postal voting.

Dzulkifli however stressed that the move to tear the picture was merely a symbolic act and not meant to be a personal attack.

Abdul Rashid had previously warned that he would take legal action against those who spread slander against him.

Meanwhile,Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has said Singapore and Malaysia will benefit from closer connectivity and collaboration.





In fact, he believes Malaysia will stand to gain even more than Singapore in the long run.

In the immediate phase of closer connectivity, Mr Lee said Singapore will gain a little more because the city state is more connected to the outside world.

But in the long term, Malaysia will make the bigger gain because of its larger capital mass and bigger human resource pool.

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