A second bite at the cherry

In the days running up to the last general election, as I traveled with Guan Eng in Penang on the campaign trail, the present MB of Penang who was sitting in the front passenger of the vehicle we were travelling in, turned to me at the back of the car and asked, in a voice hoarse from days and days of speaking at ceramah, how I thought we were faring.

I told Guan Eng that if we could minimise the cheating by BN, we would take seven states.
“Lu gila, lah”, he responded.
“Gila! If we can really stop the cheating, we should be able to form a simple majority federal government”, I retorted back.
On that historic night of 8th March, when it became obvious that BN was in for a drubbing, I sms’d Guan Eng : ‘Congrats, you f****** pessimist’
Malaysiakini, in its report dated 17th March, 2008, reported BERSIH as saying that opposition parties could have won the 12th general election had it been conducted in clean, fair and transparent manner.
10 days before, Malaysiakini reported that 9 buses were stopped in Terengganu by supporters of what must surely have been PAS on suspicion that phantom voters were being ferried into Terengganu for the general election the next day. Police were reported to have rushed to the scene and ‘escorted the convoy to “a safe place”, which Malaysiakini understands was the state government building Wisma Darul Iman in Kuala Terengganu’.
The next day, polling day, there was more trouble in Terengganu.
Malaysiakini reported that in Rusila, Terengganu that morning, police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of 200 to 300 people after they had stopped two buses and several cars which PAS supporters suspected were ferrying phantom voters brought in by BN, ordering at least 76 people in the buses and cars to surrender their identity cards.
The Malaysiakini report has it that when IGP Musa Hassan, who was reported to have said that those on the buses had resumed their journey to carry out casting their ballots, was ‘questioned as to whether or not it had been determined that the voters were genuine voters or phantom voters, Musa said: “If their names are there, they are legal voters. If their names are not there, they cannot vote. They will check with the (Election Commission) EC. There’s no such things as phantom voters. These are outstation voters who are registered to vote there though they are not staying there. They are legal voters,” he added.
There is no such thing as phantom voters?
Ask Rocky Bru who, until the 12th GE had never voted in his life and yet, when he went to register as a voter so that he could vote for the first time last year, was informed that he was already registered as a voter in Bukit Gantang, a place he had never been to in his entire life.
Bussing in phantom voters seems to be the standard modus operandi.
On polling day in the Permatang Pauh by-election on 26th August, last year, Malaysiakini reported that 5 buses were stopped by PKR supporters on suspicion that they were ferrying phantom voters. All the buses were taken to the Seberang Jaya police station. YB Gobalakrishnan, who complained that the police were ‘too busy’ to take down his police report, was, together with his two sons, arrested for stopping the buses.
Was this matter of the alleged phantom voters being bussed into Permatang Pauh ever investigated?
Or was this whole affair brushed aside on the footing that there is no such thing as phantom voters?
I’m still convinced that if the elections had been clean and fraud-free, Perlis and Terengganu as well as the federal government would have fallen to the Pakatan Rakyat parties.
Were the people of Kuala Terengganu cheated of a representative, freely and fairly elected, on 8th March?
Do you, Kuala Terengganu voter, feel that you were cheated last time round?
Or were you one of those who voted for BN, thinking that nothing ever changes in this country, and then was bowled over by the tsunami that hit the country?
Worse, you stayed home and did not vote, thinking, ‘Oh, what’s the point!’?
Would you have voted BN out if you had known that in many other places in the country, a mood of change had captured the imagination of so many, and was about to sweep BN out in another 4 states?
On 9th March, last year, after it became clear how badly BN had fared, were you, Kuala Terengganu voters, left with a ‘Oh, why didn’t we…’  feeling?
Rarely, in life, does one get a second chance.
A second bite at the cherry.
That is what the by-election in Kuala Terengganu on 17th January is.