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Kapil is shooting blanks! — Tindak Malaysia

April 14, 2012

APRIL 14 — Civil society movement, Tindak Malaysia commented on Kapil Sethi’s article in The MalaysianInsider dated 13th Apr 2012 entitled Bersih 3.0 is jumping the gun. 

We wish to commend him for an entertaining article that on the surface, sounds logical and reasonable. But on closer examination, we can only conclude that it consists primarily of “Nice words, No substance. Spin only.” In other words, he’s merely shooting blanks. Given the fact that the writer is an advertising strategist, it is understandable because the article can at best be described as an advertorial written for Barisan Nasional. 

Today, that is all Barisan Nasional can do. 

Spin and shoot blanks. Bluster and try to bulldoze their way through. 

Let’s look at the facts. 

On 2nd Dec 2011, the PSC made 10 recommendations in their Interim Report (DR. 3/2011). We followed up with many counter-proposals to the 10 recommendations. On 21st Mar 2012, we presented our Memo no. 2 to the PSC giving in detail more than 100 recommendations and proposals on amendments to the Election Laws and Regulations to give effect to the BERSIH 2.0 8 Demands. 

After 5 months the PSC presented their Final Report on 3rd Apr 2012. We tabulated our comparison of the PSC Interim Report with their Final Report and the contrast is very glaring. 

Section 1: PSC Interim Report 

1. Indelible ink (PSC Interim Report pg 105) 

  • Indelible ink shall be used to mark voters to prevent multiple voting.     No provision of marking for postal voters.  Extra staff cost RM 7 million. Create extra 30,000 postal voters 
2. Postal Voting (PSC Interim Report pg 105)   Spouses are registered as postal voter already despite PSC recommendation.  
  • Those on duty in remote areas must apply for postal voting, 
    although spouses will not be entitled to such a right. 
  • 2.5 Election Commission staff, doctors,  EC staff already have postal vote. No advantage for drs, nurses and journalists to be             included. 
nurses and journalists qualify for early voting. (PSC Interim Report pg 106) 

2.6 Process for postal voting shall guarantee transparency like normal voting process. (PSC Interim Report pg 106)     Where is recommendation on transparency for postal voting? 

3. Absentee voting for all Malaysian citizens residing abroad.    Unreasonable condition of return once every 5 years. 

4. Inter-state voting for East Malaysians residing in the peninsula to       Not given

be allowed to vote and vice-versa. (PSC Interim Report pg 106) 

4.4 Provide voting zones for outstation voters. (PSC Interim Report pg 107)    Not given 

5. Transfer of voting area (PSC Interim Report pg 107) 

  • Applications to transfer voting address must include a statutory declaration.          EC did not agree. EC should allow transfer within the same state constituency. 

6. Electoral roll audit (PSC Interim Report pg 107)     MIMOS performance has been pathetic. Dr. Ong Kian Ming report

6.3 The PSC recommends Mimos Bhd to perform the audit. (PSC Interim Report pg 108.) 

6.4 For Sabah, the entire electoral roll needs to be vetted.              EC did not agree. 

6.5 RCI on Project IC (PSC Interim Report pg 108.)              Dropped from PSC Final Report 

 

7. Display of electoral roll (PSC Interim Report pg 108.)              400,00 dubious voters

7.4. Display period doubled to 14 days.        14 days is not enough! 

7.4b Abolish RM10 fee for objections against each voter.         Fee retained

7.4c Abolish maximum limit of voters which can be questioned by a single complainant.           EC increase to 20 only. Why? 

 

8. Transparency of Voting Process (PSC Interim Report pg 109)          Nothing done about this

8.2 PSC suggested that SPR study efforts to increase transparency of polling process as follows: 

8.2.1 Ballot Paper Serial No. Removal of serial numbers on ballot papers and retain it on the counterfoil.          The PSC created an unnecessary problem. No change. Neutral. 

8.2.3 Allow visually impaired voters to choose whomever they wish to mark their ballot papers. (PSC Interim Report pg 110) 

8.2.4 Recount Process           Gazette 2012. Good

8.2.4.3 Allow for recount if at the main tally centre, the difference in votes for the candidate with the highest vote and the  The PSC created an unnecessary problem. Serial no. on ballot paper retained. Neutral

 second highest differ by 2% or less. (PSC Interim Report pg 110) 

8.2.2 Rearrange desks in polling centres to allow scrutineers to identify voters easily.  EC polling station layout Gambarajah A has not improved anything. Made worse bythe

  increasing staff cost & postal voters. 

8.2.5.2 SPR shall only accept the marking “X” in a box on the right hand side of the ballot paper in alignment with   Not done. Present system lead to a lot of abuse and cheating! 

the candidate's name as a valid vote

 

9. IMPROVE THE NOMINATION PROCESS (PSC Interim Report pg 111)  Final PSC report included this but this is not an improvement. It make things worse! Done. Good. 

9.1 Process for objections on nomination day be cancelled. 

9.2 Period for withdrawal of candidacy be abolished. 

 

10. STRENTHEN SPR  Nothing substantial from this. In principle, EC members should not come from ex-civil service

10.1 Strengthen the SPR to improve public confidence. 

10.2a Provisions to ensure independence of the SPR have to be clarified under the laws.  BERSIH 2.0/Tindak Malaysia has proposed necessary amendments already but this was ignored.

10.2b EC must be allowed to enforce election laws. Increase EC resources and make them independent.  

Next we analysed the PSC’s Final Report DR.1/2012 based on timelines. Only 1 item “postal voter status for EC staff and journalists” will be implemented immediately. As we have pointed out EC staff already enjoy postal voting privileges. We don’t see any advantage in giving postal voting to journalists. Given that the majority of mainstream media are owned by organisations aligned to the Ruling Party, the motives are suspect. The other recommendations which could be remotely considered as part of the BERSIH 2.0 8 demands are either scheduled beyond GE13 or have no timelines. 

We had expected this. That was why we immediately analysed the PSC’s Final Report and both BERSIH 2.0 and Tindak Malaysia came out with press statements separately (Bersih and Tindak Malaysia) on 4th Apr 2012 (within 1 day of the Report tabled and approved in Parliament without debate!) to give our views on the Report. 

Analysis of PSC’s Final Report DR. 1/2012 dated 3rd Apr 2012. 

Except for point no. 2 for immediate implementation, all the other points that are of relevance (see items highlighted in red below) to BERSIH 2.0’s 8 Demands are pushed far into the future, and clearly shows that BN is merely playing for time.

Not only that, Tindak Malaysia has issued a series of Press Releases analysing in detail the 10 Recommendations of the PSC Interim Report and demonstrated how shallow they were. 

It is clear to the public that Barisan Nasional created the PSC as a public-relations exercise to ameliorate Najib’s abysmal handling of the BERSIH 2.0 rally on 9th Jul 2011. Despite our misgivings of the agenda of the PSC, we still participated actively in the hearings, giving our proposed solutions, in the meagre hope that maybe this time, just maybe, the BN is serious about electoral reform. Sadly, we have been sorely disappointed. 

On balance, the PSC on Electoral Reform is an eye-wash and has produced practically nothing of substance other than a lot of hype which has given the politicians and mainstream media a lot of room to create spin to confuse the public. They have wasted millions of Ringgit of the public money producing hardly anything. Not only that, we, the public, who took part in the hearings also wasted thousands of man-hours preparing our submissions, all in vain. 

Kapil writes well, has all the right phrases and makes for good advertising copy. 

We particularly liked this part: “Just because in some instances, like the Peaceful Assembly Act and the ISA replacement act, the government seems to be talking with a forked tongue should not mean that even when they are doing something right, they should be demonised because of their past history.” We recommend that he read our compilation of UMNO’s past record here. There are 42 articles that should adequately address his point. 

Barisan Nasional should give him credit for his efforts. But in terms of educating the public, which he professes to be trying to do, it has been misleading and totally lacking in substance. So, how can it be said that “BERSIH 3.0 is jumping the gun?” 

We reiterate. “It’s more like Kapil shooting blanks!”

 

* Tindak Malaysia is a political-social-economic forum to educate Malaysians, to empower and encourage them to act towards the goal of a 2-Party State.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.