Why now, Bersih asks EC on new regulations? Bersih today questioned the necessity for and the rationale behind the Election Commission’s recent additional conditions for campaign materials for the upcoming general election. In a statement, the steering committee of the coalition for clean and fair elections asked why the EC was imposing these conditions when there are more pressing problems to be addressed.
“In view of the other larger electoral issues that require the immediate attention of the EC, such as discrepancies in the electoral roll, caretaker government, postal voting and advance voting, it is surprising that the EC chooses to focus on regulating campaign materials of political parties. There have been no problems with featuring other individuals in campaign materials of political parties for the past 13 general elections, so why are these additional regulations suddenly needed now?” it asked.
The statement comes following EC’s additional requirements announced yesterday, which among others stipulates that only the pictures of two political leaders from each party, namely the president and deputy president, will be allowed to appear either alone or along with the contesting candidate in campaign materials. Bersih asked whether the new rules would mean that banners, posters, and billboards of ceramah, events and activities that feature speakers other than the three mentioned above will be removed – including those prominently featuring BN secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor in Kuala Lumpur, who is only contesting in Putrajaya. “If implemented, these regulations will effectively ban the appearance of photos of (Pakatan Harapan chairperson) Dr Mahathir Mohamad and (PKR de facto leader) Anwar Ibrahim in all constituencies run by Harapan under the logo of PKR. “Meanwhile, BN will have no problems featuring the photos of Najib Abdul Razak and Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in their materials, as they are the president and deputy president of BN, respectively,” it said.
As such, Bersih added that the EC’s imposition of the new regulations without consultation with all stakeholders is unreasonable, unfair, and in violation of the freedom of expression of political parties. The coalition called for the new guidelines to be withdrawn immediately.