Bersih Recognized at The 19th Annual International Electoral Awards
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) is proud to announce that we were a runner-up in the Citizens’ Engagement Award category at the 19th Annual International Electoral Awards Ceremony at Lisbon, Portugal. The award was won by Elections Ontario of Canada. This event was organized by the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies (ICPS) in collaboration with the Portuguese National Electoral Commission, and drew together leading figures in the world of electoral affairs in a two-day symposium and award ceremony on 16th November. The Awards Ceremony was the principal part of the event and recognized and celebrated the outstanding contributions made by individuals and organizations in the field of electoral affairs. Most of the nominees for the various awards were Electoral Management Bodies except for International Idea and BERSIH. Thomas Fann, our Chairperson was present on behalf of BERSIH to receive the runner-up’s plaque.
The Citizens’ Engagement Award was in recognition of three of BERSIH’s campaigns since 2020 up till the 15th General Election (GE15).
The first was for our campaign to push for the implementation of an anti-hopping mechanism after the Sheraton Move in 2020 that eventually culminated in the Anti-Hopping Law (AHL). It was necessary that the collective will of voters who chose the parties of their choice be respected after elections instead of being betrayed by elected representatives who freely hopped to other parties without the need to be accountable to their voters. The two and a half years campaign that involved numerous engagements with lawmakers and the public with the support of media organisations, led to the passing of the AHL in July 2022 and its activation 5 days before the 14th Parliament was dissolved to pave the way for the 15th General Election (GE15).
The second campaign was the Ketuanan Pengundi (Voters’ Supremacy) campaign to restore hope in our democracy by focusing on reforms that could stabilise politics and protect’s voters’ interest. The six demands of the Ketuanan Pengundi campaign were – don’t suppress our votes, stop party-hopping, make Parliament work, our right to dissent, AGC reform and restore local council elections. Another objective of the campaign was to persuade political parties who will be contesting in GE15 to commit to these reform demands.
Thirdly was the #VoteFuture campaign to raise voters’ turnout for GE15. With the general disillusionment after the political coup in 2020 and the substantial increase in the number of eligible voters after the lowering of voting age to 18 and the implementation of Automatic Voters Registration that saw the electoral roll ballooned by 40% from 14.9mil to 21.1mil compared to GE14, the concern was that voters’ turnout will decline from 82.3% to less than 60%. BERSIH launched the #VoteFuture campaign to push for a higher voters’ turnout of at least 70%. Eventually, the voters’ turnout for GE15 was 74%.
We are truly honoured by this recognition of our last three years of advocacy to push for electoral reforms and to strengthen our parliamentary democracy. This recognition affirms and validated our key role in advocating for a more stable, inclusive and accountable democracy, and an acknowledgement that key to achieving any institutional reform, is our engagement with the citizens.
Statement issued by:
The Steering Committee of BERSIH