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Monday, April 15, 2013

The EC Must Address These Doubts

The EC Must Address These Doubts

Sunday, 14 April 2013 admin-s
Another curious decision made by the EC is that the indelible ink would be applied on each voter before they cast their vote. Tindak Malaysia has tried this out in a practice run and found that it’s a bad idea because it could result in the ballot paper getting smudged, which could lead to the vote being considered spoilt.  
Kee Thuan Chye
While announcing the date for the 13th general election, the Election Commission (EC) also said that it would make the event “the best” ever held. In pledging this, its chairman, Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, reiterated what he had said on Feb 5.
But somehow the pledge rings hollow. Many Malaysians have lost too much confidence in the EC to believe that it will be, in Abdul Aziz’s words, “transparent” and that it “will not help any party to win”. Its actions and pronouncements have too often indicated the contrary.
Besides that, NGOs that have engaged with the EC know how frustrating the experience can be. The latter is notorious for not replying to pressing questions concerning the electoral process or improper conduct at elections. Its dismissal of Bersih’s demands for electoral reform compelled the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections to take its cause to the streets in July 2011.
The EC is also noted for its apparently cavalier attitude towards calls for cleaning the electoral roll. Instead of getting down to the task of doing it, it has been giving excuses – even though a Merdeka Centre survey in April 2012 revealed that 92% of Malaysians in Peninsular Malaysia want the roll cleaned.
The biggest joke, made in April 2012, was Abdul Aziz’s declaration that the Malaysian electoral roll was “the cleanest in the world”. He said there were only 42,000 dubious voters out of the 12.6 million registered, which works out to a mere 0.3%.
But political scientist Ong Kian Ming had a radically different figure to present. Ong said an analysis conducted under one of his projects showed that the number of dubious voters was 3.3 million.
Apart from dubious voters, missing names and other anomalies have reportedly been found in the constituencies of Klang MP Charles Santiago and Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, both from Pakatan Rakyat.
But when they both requested the EC to look into the matter, it did not respond accordingly. Both were forced to go to the High Court. However, Section 9A of the Elections Act denies the courts jurisdiction in regard to the electoral roll, so their cases were thrown out.
More distressing for Izzah is the sudden spike in the number of postal voters there. By the end of 2011, it had gone up by an unusual 1,400% from 2008. And since postal votes are known to favour the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, their increased presence could be a bane to the PKR vice-president.
As for the total number of voters in Lembah Pantai, there has been, according to Izzah, a phenomenal increase of 15,000. While some are newly registered voters, many more appear to have been transferred there, for reasons known only to the EC.
With the general election coming up on May 5, what happens now to the discrepancies in the electoral roll? Do Malaysians go to the polls with doubt in their minds about whether the process might be compromised and phantom voting might influence the outcome unfairly?

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