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[the-malaysian] The MALAYSIAN - 191199

Date: 19 Nov 1999
Time: 10:13:58


[the-malaysian] The MALAYSIAN - 191199

Who is irresponsible: Jomo, the Election Commission or Mahathir?

Professor Jomo has taken a suit against the Election Commission because almost 700,000 new voters have been denied their constitutional right to vote (and not to vote) almost eight months after they registered. Seventy per cent of these new voters are under the age of 30.

These new voters represent almost 7 per cent of the total electorate, and about 10 per cent of those who actually vote. It is clear their vote can change the outcome in many constituencies.

The Elections Commission claims it cannot complete the new registration roll until after January 31, 2000.

In turn, caretaker Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad Thursday called on Jomo to step down because of his lawsuit.

Mahathir described the lawsuit as "an irresponsible act, especially coming from someone who has never voted in an election," Bernama reported.

Caretaker Mahathir also defended the commission, saying that certain procedures had to be followed to ensure there were no phantom voters on the new electoral roll.

But who is irresponsible, Jomo or the Elections Commission or Mahathir himself?

The Election Commission denies its decision has anything to do with politics.

Acknowleding that the great majority of the new voters are below the age of 30, secretary of the Election Commission, Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, said that doesn't necessarily mean they would be likely to vote for the opposition.

By this statement alone, the Election Commission stands condemned.

Whatever the belief of the Barisan Alternatif regarding the likely leanings of these new voters, that is not the issue. The issue is their right to vote, a right denied by the Election Commission although it was well within its power to set the election date so as to allow them to vote, or to speed up the processing for the same objective.

First, the Constitution states that elections have to be called within sixty days of the dissolution of Parliament. Parliament was dissolved on November 11. It could have set the elections as late as January 9, 2000, and worked flat out to clear the register by then.

But no, it set the polls in the shortest possible time.

Secondly, it is a matter of constitutional right, granted by Art 119. The Election Commission has a constitutional duty to ensure that this right is fully respected, and not at the convenience of the commission.

Thirdly, while procedures must be followed, it is clear that the Election Commission must take the award for gross inefficiency despite computerisation and Malaysia Boleh! talk.

New Zealand allows voter registration with full rights to vote right up to the day before polling day.

In Indonesia, poor, without an MSC and all the "Cinta IT" talk, it took only NINE DAYS (not months) to finalize and to issue the register for the June polls. Voter registration took place from April 5-May 4. The final list of voters was ready on May 13! THREE WEEKS later, the register was used for the June 7 election.

Note that we are not talking about 10 million voters as in the case of Malaysia, but 125 million Indonesian voters, involving more than 300,000 polling stations spread throughout the archipelago. We are talking about the second highest population in the world. Indonesia Boleh!

Or take the first elections in Cambodia, a country with barely an infrastructure to talk of. Voter registration took place from October-December 1992, and the polls were held from May 23-28, 1993. It took FIVE (not NINE) MONTHS. The number covered was 4.7 million. Cambodia Boleh?

Malaysia, an upper-middle income country, aspiring to be a developed country by 2020, needs all of NINE MONTHS to complete an annual voter registration. And even then, judging by the previous and present lists, the commission cannot clean it of phantom voters.

Mahathir's sweet talk of the need to clean the list of phantom voters is just that -- sweet talk! For the fact of the matter is that the list that will be used on November 29 contains phantom voters!

In any case, it was in Mahathir's power to dissolve Parliament after January 2000, when the new rolls would be ready. Why didn't he?

Finally, for a man who claims to want only the best for Malaysians, he is extremely cavalier about the rights of nearly 700,000 Malaysians. He should be fighting for their rights, and especially since he thinks they are going to vote for him. So much for his self-proclaimed concern about the democratic rights, sovereignty and independence of Malaysians.

So who is irrespnsible? Jomo or the Election Commission or Mahathir?

The elections and astrology

It has been rumoured that the important dates for this election were set by the stars, or rather, by the numbers. The consultant was an Indian astrologer often consulted by a most senior minister in the previous BN cabinet, and a caretaker minister in the present caretaker government.

Reportedly, the astrologer divined that the number "2" was most auspicious for Mahathir and the BN.

Indeed, all the critical dates for this election do correspond to the number "2".

Parliament was dissolved on the 11th -- 1+1=2 Nomination day is on the 20th -- 2+0=2 Polling day is on the 29th -- 2+9=11; 1+1=2 Too bad the UMNO and BN Supreme Council didn't consult the same astrologer. If they had, they wouldn't have been so surprised by the calling of elections.

One hopes economic policy isn't set in the same way.

But how did the independent Election Commission come by these numbers? Did they consult the same astrologer? Or did a bird whisper it into their ears?

Erasing history

Take a look at Sunday's November 14th edition of Sin Chew Jit Poh.

Look closely at the main photo on the front page of the Forum section. What do you see?

You see a group photo of BN leaders taken during the last general elections in 1995.

In the centre is of course Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

Who is standing to his right? It is a man with a white shirt and loose baggy fawn-coloured trousers.

Of course, it is Anwa...r..r ..WHAT? It is Abdullah Ahmad Badawi!!

What was Abdullah Ahmad Badawi doing with a group of BN component party leaders in 1995?

Look more closely at the photo. Ahhhh, there you have it!

Those who read history books know that in the Soviet Union, after Trotsky fell out with Stalin, all photos of the Bolshevik revolution were edited so that Trotsky's images were removed and replaced by an empty space.

Those who remember the photos coming out from Communist China after Chariman Mao's death in 1976 will remember that after the Gang of Four were overthrown, all official Chinese photos of top officials, including photos of Mao's funeral, had these embarrassing-looking empty gaps in the line-up of top Chinese officials at the funeral, where the members of the Gang of Four had stood.

In our case, we have gone one better!

Instead of erasing Anwar's image and leaving an embarrassing gap in the group photo of top BN leaders in 1995, they have cut off Anwar's head and pasted Badawi's head on top of poor Anwar's body! Anwar himself is nowhere to be seen.

Malaysia Boleh! Not only can we do heart transplants, we are the first nation in the world to do head transplants amongst our top political leaders!

Truly a great feat, fit for entry into the Guinness Book of Records!

Syabas, Sin Chew Jit Poh! Syabas, Malaysia! Syabas, Our Great Leader Mahathir!

Malaysia Semua Boleh!

Truth? History? Who cares!

(adapted from a posting to the Internet newsgroup soc.culture.malaysia)

Body grafts?

A head graft or a body graft -- what's the big deal?

For some time now rumours have been flying around of a photograph allegedly of Anwar in some compromising poses. It is also rumoured that this photograph will find its way to voters just before polling day.

If so, it will not be the first time that a photograph has been used as a campaign weapon.

Remember the election campaign of 1990?

Tengku Razaleigh, now being held up as a Malay and Muslim champion for UMNO was then cast as a sell-out to Christians, an agent of the Pope, and traitor to the Malays.

A photograph of him wearing the sigah, the Kadazan head-dress, was distributed 36 hours before polling day. The symbol on the sigah was said to represent a Christian cross. Simultaneously, a purported letter from the Pope calling for the Christian conquest of Malaysia was distributed.

That did the trick in 1990 -- many Malay voters who might have considered voting for Semangat '46 switched at the last minute. The result: the BN got 53% of the vote. Given the way constituencies are drawn up, that was enough to give them a two-thirds majority.

This time, things may be more "advanced" -- a body graft, to complement the head graft in that picture which appeared in Sin Chew Jit Poh?


Last changed: November 19, 1999