Urgent need for independent election commission

The 13th General Election has put to paid what almost every decent citizen has suspected all along: there is a deep trust deficit of the Election Commission.  The response to the post-election rallies by Pakatan Rakyat is a reflection that as Malaysians, we have lost all confidence and hope of an impartial election commission. Will UMNO/BN take cognizance of this fact and institute genuine structural reform? The wait since 2008 was in vein and people are toying with alternative ways to bring about reforms.

The numerous complaints about indelible ink being washed away soon after being applied, the complete one sided support by electronic and mainstream media for the BN, the blatant disregard of legal requirement on state assembly candidates spending not more than RM100000 and parliament candidate RM200000 by BN candidates shows the inability of the election commission to conduct fair and free elections.

The election is skewed for BN to win. The government machinery, government link companies and UMNO link companies that are funded by tax payers money virtually bribe voters to support BN. The EC has lost all moral authority and credibility to conduct a free and fair election. The Election commission in its present form is untenable and unless there are real structural changes, it will not be able to conduct any more elections that will be accepted by Malaysians.

On Election Day people were unable to trust any car, either by election officers or even police vehicles bringing in ballot boxes to the main centers in each parliamentary constituency.  They wanted to inspect all cars coming inside the compound. There was so much suspicion that ballot boxes will be switched or additional boxes added. All kinds of rumors were making the rounds and one car with false ballot papers was actually stopped in Lembah Pantai.

That is the level of mistrust of the election process by Malaysian people but the Election Commission seems to be insensitive or blind about these intransigencies.  This distrust began in 2008 when the use of indelible ink use was cancelled at the 11th hour. The call to reform the election commission became loud and clear soon after 2008. Bersih 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 came and went but no real reform was instituted except the use of inconsequential and washable so called indelible ink. A Parliamentary select committee for electoral reform was also formed. The BN ruling government has ensured that no electoral reform comes about.

The Election commission is now clearly seen as another government department that is unwilling to bring about any structural changes. Youths and civil society turning up in large numbers to attend the Pakatan Rakyat rallies calling for structural changes in the way election is conducted in Malaysia, falls squarely on the inaction and deceitfulness of the BN leadership and election commission.

UMNO/BN must realize that Malaysians are more informed and youths have become major electorates with new expectations. The Election commission has to be truly independent and there are no two ways about it. Elections are no more an exclusive monopoly of civil servants alone but groups like Bersih and the like are increasingly gaining acceptance and confidence of the general public. Unless these groups are included in the electoral process, Malaysians may not accept any further election results as legitimate.

Explore posts in the same categories: From the desk of Senator S Ramakrishnan

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