Is our Election System really corrupt?

KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 (Bernama) — When the Election Commission (EC) chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof, told the organizer of the July 9 illegal assembly not to make the commission a scapegoat, some accused the Commission of being politically motivated.

They accused the EC of acting to protect the government and manipulating the election results in favor of the ruling party.

Meanwhile, the organizer is going ahead with the illegal street demonstration on July 9, despite strong condemnation from many quarters who are opposed to the idea.

The group has made eight demands, which they say will ensure clean and transparent general elections.

These are, a clean-up of the electoral roll, reforms to the postal voting system, use of indelible ink for voters, permission to campaign for at least 21 days, free and fair access to the media, strengthening of public institutions, and an end to corruption and dirty politics.

Are their demands justified and genuine? Also, was our election system that corrupt? Many believe these demands simply camouflage the organizer’s malafide intentions.

The Election Commission (EC) was prepared to meet Bersih again to discuss the issues, as they believed street demonstrations would not solve any problem, or lead to amendments to the law.

EC chairman, Abdul Aziz, told Bernama that the EC met with the organizing chairman of the illegal assembly, Datuk S. Ambiga, and some of its members at the end of last year, where they accepted the EC’s explanation of the issues.

He had also discussed the eight issues, including the need to first amend the law.

“If Bersih was really championing democracy, they could still discuss the issues with EC and forward their requests the proper way.

“This is not the way. Don’t make EC the scapegoat. They have accused us of not being democratic and clean, and of helping and supporting the government. But the past general elections and by-elections have proven otherwise,” explained Abdul Aziz.

“If voters like the opposition, they will win (seats) and there has been proof of this. So, what is their (Bersih’s) real intention? I think we (EC) are fair and just,” added Abdul Aziz.

Some politicians also questioned the intentions of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), in demanding clean elections.

Member of Parliament for Kulim Bandar-Baru, Datuk Zulkifli Noordin, said in his blog that although the seven demands made by the group seem appropriate to address a flawed election system, the question remains whether the allegations have any truth to them.

“We are not saying that the elections we have had thus far were perfect. There were still flaws, just like those in the other countries,” he said.

Citing the recently concluded elections in Turkey as an example, he said although the AK Party (Justice and Development Party) was very popular, it only received 50 per cent of votes.

AKP won about 326 seats in the 550-seat parliament, failing to secure the two-thirds majority (367 seats) it needed to make unilateral changes to the constitution.

He said the same happened in India, Australia and United States, among other countries that had flaws in their election systems.

“But, if they say it was not clean, if there was dirty play, how could they (the opposition) have gotten five states and almost flooded the parliament with their people?,” he asked.

Zulkifli said that, in fact, the opposition managed to deny Barisan Nasional (BN) a two-thirds majority, and had plenty of opportunity to raise the matter through parliamentary motions, questions, debates on the King’s speech and the budget.

“They have not produced any proof of what they claim as unclean. They just want to have a gathering, want to slant people’s thinking that the election process is not clean. We dispute the way they are going about it,” he said.

He also pointed out that if the organizer of the illegal rally had wanted to submit a memorandum to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, it could have taken an appointment with Istana Negara, which it failed to do.

“So, we can see that, behind all this, they have other agendas. Their intention was something else. I believed those people have a malafide (malicious) agenda,” he said.

“Just look at their response when I posted this idea on my Facebook and Twitter. Anwar’s supporters said they would “fill the streets with blood… it will be another Tahrir (referring to the infamous bloody gathering in down town Cairo that brought down President Hosni Mubarak),” he added.

He argued that if Bersih wanted to correct the election system, they ought to seek amendments to the election law, rather than hold the EC responsible.

“It is unbecoming of the Chairman of Bersih, who was once the Chairman of the Bar Council, to not understand what the EC cannot do… that it cannot amend the Federal Constitution. If they want to change it, bring it up in the parliament.

“We can see that they never intended to do that,” he said. — BERNAMA