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GE14: It's reform that matters most

  • Irregularities with the electoral roll, lack of laws to rein in political donations and abuse of public resources for the purpose of campaigning... all these point to the fact that this country is in urgent need of deep political reforms. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

By LIM SUE GOAN
Sin Chew Daily

The 14th general election campaigning is coming to an end. Pakatan Harapan claims there will be a Malay tsunami, but BN says no such thing, both sides trying to influence the voter turnout.

Whatever they say or do, voters should not be affected by them and should cast their votes in accordance with their own principles.

Doubtlessly there have been lots of controversies and incidents popping up during the campaign period that offer some valuable lessons for us to learn and to reflect on so that our democratic spirit and procedures could get the much needed lift.

First and foremost, there is this necessity for us to revamp our existing electoral system. There have been irregularities right from the very moment polling was fixed on a mid-week work day. For instance, the disqualification of Tian Chua's nomination even though both the court and Dewan Rakyat speaker had said the RM2,000 fine would not affect his eligibility to contest in the election. The interpretation by the EC returning officer is hardly apprehensible.

The man who stopped Dr Streram Sinnasamy, PKR's nominee for Rantau state assembly seat, from entering the nomination center was an Umno member, and Negeri Sembilan caretaker menteri besar Mohamad Hasan said the man was taking instruction from the returning officer.

Now I have a question: why were Umno members allowed to carry out their duties outside the nomination center? The Election Commission should have provided clear guidelines on this.

In addition, there have been irregularities with postal voting, with many postal voters complaining they have not received their ballot papers while some receive more than one set.

Upon inquiry, a registered postal voter in New South Wales, Australia, learned that the ballot would only arrive on May 10 while another Melbourne voter was told he would get his ballot only on the polling day itself.

There were also problems with early voting, with a police inspector stationed at Bukit Aman police headquarters denied the right to vote as someone might have used his identity to vote before him.

Despite the fact the EC had spent so much money and resources and taken so much time to prepare for the 14th general elections, such unbearable mistakes still occurred.

Irregularities with the electoral roll, lack of laws to rein in political donations and abuse of public resources for the purpose of campaigning... all these point to the fact that this country is in urgent need of deep political reforms.

Reforming the national institution should be the focus of the 14th general elections, not supporting Mahathir or Najib.

Unfortunately many seem to have overlooked what is most important for this country while sweating over a plethora of other minor issues.

Another issue that warrants our contemplation is this: Why have urban and Chinese voters been so resistant to Barisan Nasional during the most recent three general elections, such that even MCA and Gerakan Rakyat have now been faulted?

What has really impressed me is that thousands of spirited supporters braved the downpours to listen to PH leaders. DAP's Bakri parliamentary seat candidate Yeo Bee Yin received a RM500 donation from an elderly Malay man while a motorist offered a RM5,000 cheque to DAP's Segambut candidate Hannah Yeoh.

Even as Barisan Nasional needs to generously distribute cash to win the hearts of voters, members of public have dug into their pockets to support the opposition. This is something impossible without strong determination or willpower.

If BN eventually wins the election, it should reflect on itself why there is this powerful yearning among urban votes for change. No administration can last long for doing nothing in the face of such a strong willpower.

Another thing we need to look into is why some people would do anything just to win the election.

In order to secure electoral victory, some have organized free concerts and lucky draws. Sungai Besar Umno chief Jamal Md Yunus even offered each Sekinchan household RM1,000 cash reward if the MCA candidate wins the election.

It is detestable that this cash-distributing tactic, previously used in Penang, is being recycled in the run-up to GE14.

Additionally, political confrontation is a heated issue. An old man was pushed down the stage by the supporter of a rival party, the “villain-hitting” video throwing in curses against MCA and Gerakan leaders, cyber-bullying and spread of unverified news, among others, all point to the fact candidates and their supporters would resort to any means just to ensure they win the election.

Sure enough the ultimate purpose of an election is to win, but this should not be the excuse for anyone to flout the law and moral etiquette.

While we cannot tolerate acts of corruption and abuse of power, we also must not allow ourselves to stoop so low. Those condemning others spreading political hatred should not overlook other instances of injustice. Selective justice is simply morally not right.

Besides giving us the right to choose our representatives and government, elections also allow us to establish a checks and balances mechanism to oversee the administrative powers.

Any side that has become excessively powerful or is manipulating elections will pose a serious threat to democracy and freedom.

 

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