|More than 250,000 throng the streets on 28 April 2012 to demand clean and fair elections (pic: Washington Post)|
|Anwar Ibrahim, Opposition Leader and|
prime minister-in-waiting (pic: ABC)
The right to such a process is recognized in all democracies. Three conditions must be fulfilled: an independent audit of the electoral roll, a minimum campaign period of reasonable duration, and allowing international observers at polling stations.
|Watch video here|
Meanwhile, the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat remains severely disadvantaged in campaigning. There is no access to the mainstream print and electronic media which, despite being largely funded by tax payers’ money, are used as a propaganda machine in ways not seen since the time of Goebbels: vicious lies are spread about the opposition’s mismanagement of the state governments, characters of key opposition leaders are assassinated and a movie is set to be screened nation-wide calculated undoubtedly to sow hostility and hatred among the indigenous Malay community towards ethnic minorities particularly the Chinese.
So we resort to self-help to travel the land and take the message home directly to the people. But where’s the right to security on our lives and property? Campaign buses and cars get pelted with stones and splashed with paint. Speakers are attacked and some supporters were knifed, violent acts caught on camera.
|Nearly 1,000 rounds of tear gas were fired on what began as a peaceful rally but ended with |
more than 500 arrests and numerous injuries (pic: New York Times)
To ensure free and fair elections, there must be protection of the law, but complaints to the police fall on deaf ears. The Home Affairs Minister tells the media that he can’t guarantee our safety. Yes, this is the same man who issued the ban order on Senator Xenophon and then proclaimed that this was a routine matter. Labeling a visiting law maker from a friendly country “a security threat” and “an enemy of the state” is a routine matter?
|Courtesy of Mob's Crib|
This is fraud perpetrated on a grand scale with the Elections Commission itself being culpable. Helmed by people who were card carrying members of the ruling UMNO party, a fact that had remained secret until it was exposed by independent watchdogs, how can anyone expect it to remain fair and impartial?
Complaints about the presence of significant numbers of phantom voters are ignored. The commission chair and deputy then go town to bash the opposition for ‘selling out’ the country’s sovereignty by calling for international observers. Right wing groups brand it as an act of treason. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed has called for the co-chair of Bersih, our democracy reform Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections, to be stripped of her citizenship.
Indeed, the test of free and fair elections is not merely allowing international observers but welcoming them with open arms because they lend credibility to the process as well as the outcome. If our elections are free and fair, what’s there to hide?
In this regard, Nick Xenophon as well as other international would-be observers will no doubt be a threat but only to those who believe they are entitled to perpetual power. The fear of losing power haunts them making them desperate in action and in word. The left hand sometimes doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.
|Najib Razak: unelected|
Crime Minister of Malaysia
Well, Mr Prime Minister, you can’t have it both ways. First, you blew away millions of dollars of the tax payers’ money in traveling to other countries to promote your persona as an emerging reform-driven democratic leader. Then you tell law makers from those countries who are coming to verify the truth of what you have been saying that this is none of their business!
So, Nick Xenophon was indeed a ‘security’ risk but not to the Malaysian people. The only rationale for his expulsion is that he represents a serious threat to the UMNO government because of his advocacy for clean elections in Malaysia. But as I have said on day one of his arrest, Malaysia does not belong to UMNO. It belongs to all citizens regardless of their political affiliation.
|UMNO cells found in bloodstream of Election Commission chairman (courtesy of Malaysiakini)|
Facile acts of reform done with much fanfare may help in the promotion of one’s persona. But it only takes one act of desperation to tear the veneer of hypocrisy and diabolical maneuvering. To repeal the Internal Security Act only to replace with another law which gives the police even wider powers of detention is a classic example. Expelling a law maker on a mission for electoral reform is yet another. However, come polling day, despite the cheating and the fraud, we believe the people will triumph.
23rd February 2013