If elected reps don't perform, tell the world

Syed Jaymal Zahiid | Jan 24, 08

Transparency International (TI) president Ramon Navaratnam has urged Malaysians to be more proactive when it comes to safeguarding democracy in the country.

Speaking at a TI workshop on free and fair elections today, he said one of the ways the people can do that is to highlight the inefficiency of elected representatives in their constituency.
“Do anything. Blog, post your writings on the internet or the media. Observe the work rate of your elected representative and if he or she is not doing enough for your community, tell it to the world,” Ramon told an audience of some 50 guests.
The workshop, held at Wisma Pantai Kuala Lumpur, was meant to highlight the need for transparent, free and fair elections – something many believe have been lacking in the country’s election system.
A panel member, Malik Hussin, said the country is lagging behind when it comes to a free and fair election system.
“Evidence of irregularities have surfaced through many elections in this country like phantom voters and ‘cash for vote’ exercises and the authorities have failed to address these matters,” said the chairperson of Mafrel, a local polls watchdog..
Bring in international observers
According to Malek, one of the many ways to counter the occurrences of irregularities in elections is to have independent international observers to monitor the election process.
“We have taken the initiative to bring into this country international observers to monitor the coming general election,” added Malik.
Another panelist, Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad who is PAS research director and also a poll reform group Coalition for Free and Fair Election (Bersih) steering committee member blamed the media for the unfair election system.
“The mainstream media have created a majority with passive and docile characteristics. They have been the tool of the ruling regime to create a mass that is not critical towards corrupt practices of the nation’s leaders,” argued Dzulkifli.
“This majority are those who have been indoctrinated for 50 years by government machineries namely the mainstream media with absurd ideas like linking the opposition victory with chaos,” he said.
Another panelist Gayathry Venkiteswaran agreed with Dzulkifli’s views.
“The mainstream media have been a major player in creating an unequal level playing field for the opposition parties in the elections,” added the executive director of Centre for Independent Journalism
Gayathry said that in Malaysia, the opposition have been constantly demonised by the government through the mainstream media and there was no way that the opposition could fight back as the majority of the mainstream media are either owned or closely linked with the ruling parties.
She said because of this, the public are not receiving alternative proposals from the opposition and this had caused the majority to vote only for the Barisan Nasional.