Malaysia’s Struggle For The Survival Of Its Democracy

Posted on May 4, 2013


many-colours-one-dream931228_10151544296912508_2122674415_nPRESS RELEASE: 3rd of May 2013

Malaysia’s 13th General Elections which will be  held on Sunday the 5th of May promises to be the most  important in the history of the country. For the first time in half a century,  the urge for change on the ground, from among the people is so great, so  powerful that there is a real chance for change.

However, as the clock ticks down  towards polling day, concerns have been raised over increasing cases of  irregularities perpetrated by the ruling coalition, which is facing the biggest  challenge to its power yet, and carried out by the machinery of the state which  it controls. These irregularities include possible voter fraud, and an attempt  to sow fear and discord among the people of  Malaysia.

In an event entitled Malaysia’s  Struggle For The Survival of Its Democracy, the diplomatic community met up with  members of NGOs and members of the Opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat. The aim  of this dialogue session was to enlighten the international community of the  challenges faced by the Opposition in their quest for a free and fair  election.

36 representatives, including  Ambassadors, from 34 Embassies and High Commissions in Malaysia turned up for  this event to hear the following concerned Malaysians speak – Mr Chua Tian Chang  @ Tian Chua –  outgoing MP for Batu and candidate for the Batu  Parliamentary seats, Ms Nurul Izzah Anwar – outgoing MP for Lembah Pantai and  candidate for that same seat in this election, Mr Sivarasa Rasiah – outgoing MP  for Subang and candidate for Subang, and Mr Haris Ibrahim – the founder of the  NGOs The People’s Parliament and ABU.

Topics Raised

Speaking first Tian Chua exposed  that the so-called indelible ink, which was introduced for these elections after  pressure from NGOs and the Opposition was not that indelible. He revealed that  after early voting carried out by army and police personnel, a number of reports  have been lodged showing that instead of 7 days, as previously promised, the ink  wore off in just a few hours. This raises the possibility of voters being able  to vote twice.

Another concern he raised was of how  the Elections Commission (EC) has added 300,000 postal voters to the electoral  roll, comprising EC workers and media personnel. These postal votes, he said,  are not transparent, and the question as to why they need to be postal votes  rather than early votes has not been satisfactorily answered by the Elections  Commission.

Echoing Tian Chua’s concerns on the  indelible ink and postal voters, Nurul Izzah Anwar also highlighted disturbing  cases of increased political violence carried out by members of ruling coalition  against Opposition members. She revealed that she herself had been ‘chased out’  of some housing areas in her constituency by machete-branding members of the  ruling party.

She therefore called upon the  assembled guests to put pressure on the government, on caretaker Prime Minister  Datuk Seri Najib Razak, so that such intimidation will stop. She also reaffirmed  the commitment of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition to peaceful transaction and  announced that word has been given to supporters to not be  provoked.

Speaking next, Sivarasa Rasiah  touched upon the issue of media coverage, or rather the lack of positive  mainstream media coverage, and highlighted how the mainstream press is playing  up issues of race and religion to create a sense of antipathy, fear and hatred  for the Opposition particularly amongst rural voters, who owing to the  gerrymandering of constituencies, have a larger voice than urban  voters.

He also revealed that more than  40,000 voters have been flown from Sabah to Kuala Lumpur, on specially chartered  flights, which is a clear violation of the law which forbids candidates from  paying for the transport of voters, and expressed scepticism over the  explanation that these flights were sponsored by ‘friends’ of the ruling  party.

Haris Ibrahim continued highlighting  the issue of this suspicious transportation of voters, and said that since late  April, more than 16 chartered flights have been flown into KLIA each day. He  revealed that he and his colleagues were at the airport last night, and observed  the suspicious activities where foreigners were brought from abroad on a  chartered flight and ferried out using government vehicles. The suspicion, he  said, is that the ruling party is colluding with the Electoral Commission, to  carry out voter fraud by giving identity cards to  non-Malaysians.

He also exposed the plan to stir up  anger by screening the controversial film Tanda Putera on mainstream  television on the eve of the elections, in the hope of sowing hatred among the  young Malays for Malaysian Chinese. Furthermore, he revealed how the government  through the mainstream media is using anti-Semitic and anti-Christian sentiments  to create this sense of fear and hatred among the Malay community for the  Opposition.

Following this, during the Q&A  session that followed, members of the audience raised questions about Malaysia’s  electoral system and how fraud could be propagated in this seemingly transparent  system. In-depth clarifications were provided by the panellists where they  explained how multiple-voting could take place because of the failure of the  indelible ink system and flawed electoral roll, and the existence of phantom  voters and non-qualified foreigners who are given fake ICs to  vote.

This was followed by tea during  which more discussions were held. As a result, the diplomatic community gained  more in-depth understanding of the challenges towards a free and fair election  that has been hoped for by the People of Malaysia in this coming  election.

Coverage by International Business  Review.