MSN Philippines News | 25-May-2012 – An overwhelming majority of Malaysians support cleaning up the country’s electoral register, one of the key demands of a movement for free and fair elections, an opinion poll said Friday.
A rally by tens of thousands of people on April 28 piled pressure on Prime Minister Najib Razak to undertake major reform of the electoral system before he calls widely expected polls.
The current system is biased in favour of his ruling coalition, critics say.
Authorities had banned the rally from the centre of the capital Kuala Lumpur and many political observers believe the negative impact of resulting clashes between police and marchers may cause Najib to delay calling the elections.
A survey by the independent Merdeka Center conducted in the two weeks preceding the rally found that 92 percent of respondents felt the government should clean up the electoral roll before elections.
Another 49 percent said they did not trust the integrity of the electoral process, against 44 percent who did.
Najib must call national elections by early next year, and many observers expect a tight contest after the Anwar-led opposition handed the ruling coalition its worst poll showing ever in 2008.
The organisers of the April rally — the clean-elections group Bersih, a coalition of dozens of NGOs — have become a major force in Malaysian politics
A similar rally in 2011 by the group — which was crushed by police — is widely seen to have pushed Najib to embark on a campaign to soften authoritarian laws in a bid to gain voter support.
Najib also ordered a panel to look into election complaints but the group has said the panel’s recommendations did not go far enough and it has left open the option of further public rallies unless demands are met.
These include cleaning the electoral roll of widespread irregularities, ensuring balloting by millions of overseas Malaysians and equal access to government-controlled traditional media.