Side Views

‘Wayang Kulit’ elections - Ravinder Singh

July 21, 2013
Latest Update: July 21, 2013 09:59 am

The game plan was simple. Malaysia is supposed to be a democratic country. That was the foundation on which it was born. The Federal Constitution is there to prove it.

On the other hand, after the time of Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Umno-dominated Alliance (changed to Barisan Nasional later), felt that it should remain in power all the time, for reasons best known to it.

However, this had to be done in a “democratic” way to show the world that democracy was alive. A simple way to do this was to move the goalposts from election to election. A game plan was mooted to do this constitutionally. Using its two-thirds majority in Parliament, which is needed to amend the very same constitution, the plan was put into action. First, the 15% difference allowed in the number of voters in the different constituencies was changed to 50%.

A further amendment was made some years later which removed the 50% figure and left only the words “approximately equal” for the Election Commission (EC) to interpret as it chose fit. This resulted in some constituencies becoming umpteen times bigger than others. It was no co-incidence that these huge constituencies were pro-opposition voters.

This game of changing the goalposts had to be further refined to make it easier to accurately identify the sentiments of small pockets of voters. This was done by changing the vote-counting system. Instead of taking all the marked ballots to a central counting station, where a different group of election workers would do the counting, the counting was now to be done in the very room that the ballots were cast, by the same election workers. 

This ballot counting in the balloting rooms was a well-disguised operation for spying on the voters. People were fooled into accepting this method of vote counting by telling them that this way the results would be known several hours earlier than before. People being anxious to know the results as soon as possible, did not raise an eyebrow and see the mischief behind the move.

The mischief was that the EC now had very detailed information about how the voters in each and every stream, numbering from 200 to 600 or so, had voted. Now, knowing the addresses of these voters and how a majority in each stream had voted, the pencils were out drawing lines around these addresses, either grouping them on the pro-government side or the pro-opposition side. Thus electoral boundaries began zigzagging in ways defying logic and unseen before.

When the question of gerrymandering was raised, and the EC asked to explain the huge disparity in electoral constituencies despite the Constitution clearly saying that the number of voters in them must be “approximately equal”, the EC had the gall to say that the Constitution had been followed in drawing up the boundaries.

It must also be noted that the EC is actually a department in the Prime Minister’s Department and not an Election Commission that is independent. It is under the direction of the PM. All re-delineation reports must first be handed to the PM for his approval. If the EC were independent, these reports should go straight to Parliament without the PM seeing them, let alone approving them first.

To hoodwink the world that the elections department was an independent body, it had to be officially called a Commission. Maybe by a slip of the tongue, one of the Commissioners recently confirmed that the Commission was not independent when he said that the Commission’s proposal to draw up rules for a caretaker government after dissolution of Parliament was shot down by a government ministry. The Chairman of the Commission has not denied this.

With calls for the Commission to use indelible ink growing louder, it chose to placate the people by getting some coloured liquid, which a Minister confirmed was food colouring, for which over RM7 million was paid. 

If any members of the Commission have any conscience, they should resign. Would the member who publicly stated that the Commission was stopped from making rules for a caretaker government please lead the way. Have you got anything to lose by resigning?

Your Chairman and his deputy never stop claiming that the EC is truly and honestly an independent body. If so, why did the Commission even have to inform the government of its intention to make rules for a caretaker government?

Can you honestly continue serving the Commission which loudly claims to be independent but which is NOT independent of government control as you have publicly acknowledged? Your integrity is at stake.

Times have changed. Dr. M’s philosophy of governance that if you tell a lie and repeat it often enough people will believe it is the truth, no longer works. - July 21, 2013.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.