Since it is under the purview of the Prime Minister's Department, the commission is not considered to be an independent body. Arguably, this is going to be the main contention of the reform promises announced by the Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Bersih accused the EC of failing to investigate 3.1 million voters whose personal details are different from the electoral roll. Opposition parties have submitted their own complaints on the electoral roll as well. Electoral roll is the most essential basis for a clean and fair election process.
Other complaints included the presence of foreigners, duplicate voters, phantom voters and other irregularities on the voters list. However, the EC has reacted in the most predictable manner. It has decided to give itself a top mark for transparency and efficiency. Its Chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof claimed that Malaysia's electoral roll was the cleanest in the world. He said only 42,000 of 12.6 million voters are considered unverifiable.
It is predictable too for Abdul Aziz to react this way since the EC has not been doing much to improve the electoral system on its own. It does not display any initiative nor sincerity to ensure that there's a level playing field. This is why putting the EC under the purview of the PM's department is going to further complicate the situation. Abdul Aziz and his men may not find it a duty and an obligation to be accountable to the parliament and ultimately the voters.
I would like to see Abdul Aziz address the issue of even 42,000 dubious voters. This number is enough to tilt the outcome of the next general election and which may even help to determine who's the next leader of this country. Instead of blowing his own trumpet, he should immediately instruct his people to address the discrepancy.
It is unproductive to go through the denial game again and again. We need to believe Abdul Aziz's words and promise to keep the electoral process fair and transparent.
If the EC does not address the discrepancy in the electoral roll immediately and swiftly before the general election, the commission cannot avoid mounting pressure for the chairman and his committee to step down.
Its negative reaction so far gives credibility and relevance to Bersih 3.0. The authorities, especially the DBKL, should not try to frame the peaceful protest as a political campaign. It is a demonstration of people's frustration with the pace of reforms and a lack of sincerity from the ruling regime and its appointees.
EC has less than 48 hours to announce its plans to clean up the electoral roll or face a major protest against its impotency and irrelevance.