S. Husin Ali,
KeADILan Deputy President
A day after election in Ijok, the keADILan Supreme Leadership Council (MPT) met. It was a routine monthly meeting, but much time was spent to analyse and discuss the bye-election and its results. Despite the “defeat”, leaders present, which included Dr Wan Azizah (President), Anwar Ibrahim (Advisor) and TS Khalid (Candidate) were all in high spirit and optimistic mood.
The meeting reaffirmed the party stand, as announced by our candidate at a press conference after the results were announced. KeADILan disputes the results of the bye-election and condemns the dirty tactics adopted by Umno-Bn, with the help of the police and the Election Commission (EC). The Party will launch a vigorous campaign in the country and among the international community to expose these.
We found numerous evidences of cheating, bribery and intimidation. Many examples have been given through the internet. Full details are being systematically gathered and compiled for preparation of an exhaustive report to be used in the campaign to expose the bye-election and to call for reforms of the EC, the election laws as well as the processes of elections in Malaysia. This is to ensure that all future elections will be free and fair.
Ijok revealed that the Umno-Bn continues to use its long tested 3M Strategy to perpetrate large scale cheating, bribery and intimidation in order to win elections. The 3M refer to Machinery, Media and Money.
As clearly evident in Ijok, with plenty of money available, the Umno-Bn as expected was able to mobilize quite effectively its party machinery. Although they can be admired for being able to do so, we protest strongly the use of government machinery, especially the EC and the police, which continue unashamedly to serve the parties in government, instead of being independent.
The EC has all along failed (deliberately?
) to clear the electoral rolls of phantom voters. A large number of dead persons still have their names registered as voters in Ijok. But several of them “came out” to vote, and we have identified them. There are names of 31 persons over the age of 100 years in the Ijok rolls. None of them appeared to have come out to vote. Do they really exist? If so, have their votes been cast by phantom voters?
A number of houses registered more than 5 and up to 15 voters at their addresses. Our party workers could not trace them, and in fact were informed that not as many people normally lived in those houses. Further, our party workers making house to house checks found that there were about 1000 registered voters whose identity and whereabouts could not be traced, and not known to local residents.
All these constitute what could become phantom voters. When public complaints were made about them, the EC Secretary had the cheek to say, “If they have their feet on the ground, they cannot be phantoms”. Was he joking? If so, he was being irresponsible; it was certainly unbecoming for a person holding his position to joke on this serious matter.
As for the police, they came in full force – in uniform, without uniform, on horse backs and in hovering helicopters. The official number announced by the police themselves was that there were 1500 of them. This works out to be one police officer for every eight voters. Even the IGP Musa Hassan was there.
Some said he could not trust his top officers in charge of the district of Kuala Selangor and the State of Selangor. Or was he indeed, as suspected by many, carrying out some covert role in collaboration with the highest political leadership in government, to make sure Umno-Bn wins? The IGP has vested interest to see keADILan and Anwar defeated.
The police came to disrupt at least seven keADILan rallies (ceramah) with the excuse that they were held without police permit. In all cases, keADILan had informed the police of their intention to hold those ceramah. It is ridiculous and undemocratic to demand for police permit during an election campaign. More ridiculous, when applications were made for permits to hold eleven ceramah near voting day, three were rejected on the curious excuse that the DPM and the Information Department were having their functions nearby. What can be more discriminatory?
I daresay that all the police attempts to stop kADILan ceramah after they have begun were deliberately done as acts of provocation. From the way they were acting, it was obvious that the police wanted to provoke the organizers and the crowd to respond aggressively and cause disturbance or disorder. They wanted to show in front of the many cameras from TV stations as well as Special Branch TV squads,which were already there, that keADILan was a rowdy party. They were disappointed of course, because in all cases, the organizers and the crowd acted with restraint and dispersed calmly and peacefully.
There was another dubious role believed to be played by a selected number of police officers not in uniform. We have been very reliably informed by certain Umno as well as police sources that they were used as phantom voters. They used false identity cards and part of over 2000 marked ballot papers that had earlier been kept at the police station/s. Most of these voters came during the last half an hour of voting. Apparently, some of them even cast more than one vote. These allegations must be investigated.
As for the mainstream media, which are owned, controlled or influenced by the governing parties or their proxies, they went to town to spread government propaganda. Statements and activities of government leaders were given full coverage. But opposition leaders, especially Anwar, Kit Siang and Ustaz Hadi, were blacked out. There were spins and disinformation galore against the keADILan candidate, leaders and party.
Anwar’s modest dancing movement in a rally, where Indian music was played to entertain the audience, was repeatedly broadcast over the government owned and controlled television stations. The accompanying commentary stated bluntly that Anwar as a Muslim was committing an un-Islamic act. Clearly this borders on libel, for which Anwar can take legal recourse if he chooses to.
Worse still was a clip showing as if the keADILan candidate called for support of Umno-Bn. This was regularly aired during news hour for a couple of days. It might have been a genuine slip on the part of the candidate or the TV station could have cleverly removed “jangan” (don’t) from his call “jangan undi Bn …” (don’t vote for Bn) to make it sound “undi Bn …” (vote Bn).
Be that as it may, there was no doubt that the TV station acted in the most unethical and opportunistic manner to cause confusion among voters as well as many viewers outside Ijok. No opportunity was given at all to the candidate to explain. This could happen because in this country, as often demonstrated especially during elections, there is hardly any free, responsible and ethical mainstream media.
As for the third M, Money, it was used to the fullest extent to bribe voters. There was rampant public and private bribery. Three days before nomination, the Selangor Menteri Besar announced that the state government had decided to allocate RM36 million, to be spent fully during the campaign period for improving public facilities, especially roads, drains, street lights and so forth. In the course of the election campaigns, the Deputy PM announced huge allocations for building a new mosque (RM5 million) and repairing an old one (RM800,000) as well as for temples and many others.
It is alleged that about RM100 million of public (more appropriately rakyat – people’s) money had been spent for all kinds of development projects aimed at buying votes. The government has not come out with any denial of this figure. Working on the basis of RM36 million, it means that about RM3000 per head was spent for the 12,000 or so voters. Obviously, the amount spent on each voter is nearly RM9000 per head, if calculated on the basis of RM100 million spent.
These are blatant cases of public bribery. But the EC Chairman quickly explained after the RM36 million was announced, that this did not constitute bribery. The law said so, said he. True. But certainly it is an unjust and immoral law. It discriminates against the opposition. If this kind of public bribery happened in other countries, including many in Asia, there would have been public outcry and government could fall. But not here.
What is less known is of course private bribery – especially money given through Umno-Bn leaders and election workers to individual voters. A number of voters readily admitted they were promised and given from RM100 to RM500 to vote for the Mic-Bn candidate. A number even mentioned RM1000. But the recipients are unwilling to make public disclosure for fear of being prosecuted and convicted under the law.
What are the important implications of the Ijok bye-election?
First, there is need to thoroughly expose the electoral malpractices of the Umno-Bn government. At the same time, the call for reform of the EC which, together with the police, connive with the government party leaders to perpetuate these malpractices, need to be stepped up and sustained locally and internationally.
Second, during the upcoming General Elections, the Umno-Bn will not be able to get strong police support as in Ijok. Their financial resources for each constituency will also be limited, for public or private bribery. Can they afford to spend RM36 million even for each Parliamentary (not to say State) constituency? This would mean they need to have nearly RM8 billion to fight the General Elections.
Third, if the trend of the Chinese swing to keADILan, as shown in Ijok, continues and at the same time around 50% of Malay support is retained, then Umno-Bn position during the General Elections, especially in the mixed constituencies, which form important bases of their strength, will be in jeopardy. They realize this, and that is why PM Abdullah Badawi announced that the results of all four past bye-elections must be studied. Be prepared for massive attempts to buy Chinese support till general election time.
Fourth, keADILan has demonstrated in Ijok that it can get the three main parties in opposition, together with many Ngo’s, to forge strong electoral cooperation in support of an Opposition candidate. This augers well for the 12th General Elections.
Fifth, it is very clear that Anwar Ibrahim is now firmly committed to keADILan, and he has emerged as undisputed leader of the Party and the Opposition. The talk about him going back to Umno should be no more. Even the Umno is forced to say that it will not readmit Anwar, although at no time has he applied for readmission.
Sixth, it has to be admitted that the overall organization and electoral machinery of keADILan is still weak. There is lot to be done and quickly, to improve this. If the party members, organizations and machinery are strong, it would be easy for keADILan to mobilize voters to reject the 3M and rebuff all cheating, intimidation and bribery.
In conclusion, there is no doubt that keADILan can stand tall because it has won a moral victory. Despite all the odds, it still manages to win more than 41% of the votes cast. Morally, it is Umno-Bn that has lost, because all their dirty tricks, carried out with the help of the EC and the police, have been exposed further. Although they have won all the recent bye-elections, there is no doubt that when they look carefully at the general trends of voting, Umno-Bn will be more than just worried. Now, keADILan and its partners have to work, persevere and sacrifice hard and in close cooperation to earn victory.
1 May, 2007