Banishing goblins of polls past

November 7, 2007

If you’ve been following the updates by Haris, the constituency of our Opposition Leader has suddenly grown like Jack’s beanstalk, sprouting 8,463 new voters in the space of just three months from April to June. We’re waiting to see if numbers for the next quarter (July-Sept) will bring on another growth spurt.

Of the quantum leapers, 3,208 are postal voters – the phalanx that is BN’s Viagra. If Kit Siang loses and he well might, it’s the genuine voters who will be rendered impotent. He previously won by 9,774 votes; his seat has now become marginal.
The Election Commission’s explanation on Ipoh Timur just doesn’t wash. There’s something supernatural afoot.
As we know from past experience, the living dead walk Malaysian soil cyclically – once every five years. It’s also when the fountain of youth magically springs forth to revitalise our centenarians so that they are able to hop, skip and jump … to do their citizen’s duty.
Then there are the Hungry Ghosts residing in haunted houses which can accommodate more than 100 inhabitants at a single address. Perhaps because they’re incorporeal, they don’t require all that much living space.
Analyst Liew Chin Tong of Bersih secretariat tells me that at this stage, public pressure must be brought to bear on the government and EC. In tandem, he says, lawyers are looking at possible legal challenges to the electoral roll.
Why should we care about ghostbusting? To my earlier lament on the Judiciary petition being slow in moving, someone responded in Zorro’s blog on the predictable “what’s in it for me” aspect.
Every day the BN remains in absolute power, you are paying tax for which in return you don’t even get decent public healthcare. Medical negligence might cost a poor baby an arm and a leg. If you’ve got little money, you can’t afford to fall sick. You may die during the long wait to be treated at government hospitals. You’re paying the salaries of indifferent, incompetent civil ‘servants’.
You’re paying towering tolls. You’re paying tottering costs on commodities and soaring utility bills. You’re paying for a part-time model’s joyride to a space station. You’re paying for Ministries ordering materials over inter-galactic distances, which is why their requisitions are price-tagged on a stratospheric payload.
You’re overpaying for every damn thing – that’s what it is to you.
Our tragedy and farce.
What is the integrity of the judiciary to us? Pertinent to my current topic, judges hear election petitions. One case involved Bukit Bintang incumbent Wee Choo Keong. He won the votes on a DAP ticket but lost in court. The MCA loser was instead sworn in as MP by default. We want judges who will make decisions in the interest of justice.
Why should we care about Ipoh Timur? Because we refuse to allow government machinery to thumb its finger in our face, that’s why. Even if you’re not sympathetic to the Opposition party, it doesn’t matter that it’s a DAP stronghold. What’s at stake is the principle that the public should get the man they support.
I’ve never been a PAS supporter but I was upset at Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi’s loss in Kuala Terengganu. In the 2004 general election, the PAS incumbent polled 29,061 votes to his challenger’s 30,994. Based on the tally, 84.2% voted.
However, 71,332 ballot papers were issued. Spoilt ballots aside, Dr Syed Azman says 10,200 slips were unreturned. This count also made the voter turnout close to an impossible 99 percent!
“That’s the question we raised with the Election Commission,” Dr Syed Azman tells me. He also says PAS was informed by the commission that perhaps voters had decided to pocket the ballot as a souvenir. “That’s utterly unreasonable,” he adds.
I agree. I’ve never heard any excuse so lame and insulting. As Dr Syed Azman points out, the overall voter turnout in Terengganu was illogically high, in the mid 80s and above percentile as compared against the national average of 70s.
However, when the Kuala Terengganu election results were gazetted, the figures were ‘rectified’ and the EC turns around and insists only 200 ballots went missing, he says.
Dr Syed Azman explains why he did not file a protest in court back then. It was a quid pro quo arrangement not to upset the apple cart in Kelantan where Nik Aziz had managed to hold on to state by a mere sliver. After some behind-the-scenes horse trading, it was agreed that the results in both Kelantan and Terengganu would not be challenged by either Umno or PAS.
This is a quote from Karl Marx: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”
Dr Syed Azman’s loss of his seat was a tragedy. I believe he would have been an asset to Parliament. I’ve said this before in malaysiakini: Dr Syed Azman showed during his first term he was young blood (only in his 30s then), vocal and vigilant. I do not accept that he was fairly ‘defeated’ at the polls.
Ipoh Timur is not a Situation Vacant like Jerai and Jasin. If it becomes so because Kuala Terengganu repeats itself a farcical second time, then the more fool us.
Make ourselves heard at Bersih rally.
There is admittedly a lot of noise and too much chatter over the Net. However, as a collective, we do have some heft, we’re making incremental gains and most importantly, we are being heard.
Netizens complain that the Web is all talk no action. The People’s Parliament attempts to nurture cyber activism. We can act now on Ipoh Timur.
Join Haris’ delegation when he calls on the election officer in Ipoh.
Step up public pressure on the EC.
March with Bersih on Nov 10. Dr Syed Azman will be marching as will many members of the Opposition. He expects a strong turnout. Be there with those guys.
People Power can make a difference. At last we seem to be moving …