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Friday, November 16, 2007

No need for institutional reform to election system - Nazri

Bernama (15/11/2007): There is no need for institutional reform to the Malaysian election system as it has worked well for the country in the last 50 years, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said.

He, however, admitted that there was still room for improvement, but to say that the system was unfair was not a correct description.

Mohamed Nazri was replying to a question posed by Al Jazeera's anchor Teymoor Nabili of the satellite channel's 101 East Programme in which he was one of three panellists invited to discuss last Saturday's illegal assembly in the city.

The other panellists were Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Human Rights lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar.

The 30-minute programme touched widely on the issue, including the media's way of handling it.

Agreeing to the minister's reply, Khairy said the system just needed some processes to be strengthened.

"There is nothing wrong with the system, but some processes need to be strenghtened... but the institution is fine, the system works," he said, pointing out that the Barisan National (BN) had lost Kelantan in the elections.

To Al Jazeera's contention that police had used force to disperse the gathering, Nazri said they did not use excessive force for obvious reasons, especially since they (police) were aware that they were under close scrutiny not only by Malaysians but the whole world.

On crowd and traffic control during the gathering, Khairy said the police handled it well.

To Imtiaz's allegation that the traffic jams that resulted were caused by police road blocks, Khairy said they were put up because of the demonstration.

He said a similar rally in Terengganu in September had descended into a violent incident.

"So, you cannot blame the police for thinking that this (Saturday's gathering) was going to end up the same way," he added.

To Nabili's question on the local media's minimum coverage on the gathering, Nazri said he did not think the local media were siding with the government.

"The media are free to report anything. In fact, I got all my information (on the gathering) from the (news) papers," he added.

Meanwhile, Nazri said changes made by the Election Commission had shown that the government had not turned a deaf ear on issues brought forward by the people.

However, he said, not every issue or grouse voiced (by the people) was necessarily right.

"We have a system here... if you have any grouse, channel it to the ballot box. We have an election every five years or less... at the end of the day, we will decide and you must never underestimate the will of the people," added Nazri.

Khairy also said that the gathering could not be used as a barometer of the general sentiments of the public.


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