MOST had predicted that Barisan Nasional would once again win the general election, as it did the past 13 times. Although the Opposition would put up a strong showing, perhaps even better than what they did in the last GE, according to conventional wisdom Barisan would still prevail.
This was helped by the fact that the Election Commission (EC) has not been acting in the interest of the people.
Even before the dissolution of Parliament, the opposition parties had already been disadvantaged by EC’s actions.
It was clear that the boundaries were delineated in order to give advantage to the incumbent. The EC did not provide an explanation as to why it had delineated the constituencies in such a manner.
The judicial review challenges filed by various parties all over Malaysia were objected to by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and these objections were upheld by the courts. This meant that the EC’s proposals could not be challenged and the rakyat were left with no recourse.
Then came the irrational decision to fix voting day on a working weekday. Until now, the EC has not seen fit to explain why a Wednesday was chosen.
But the rakyat came together to help each other overcome the challenge of weekday voting with initiatives like #UndiRabu and #PulangMengundi.
But that was not the end. The EC then came up with “additional requirements” for campaign materials, which were designed to ensure Pakatan Harapan could not display photos of its chairman, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Images of Dr Mahathir were zealously removed by EC officers, while the then caretaker Prime Minister’s image populated the country.
Then came the farce regarding postal ballots.
Malaysians all over the world received their ballots late, and could not send them back in time. Again, Malaysians had to come together to overcome the obstacle placed before them by the EC by collating their ballots to be sent back by hand.
The EC chairman came out recently to deny that there was any manipulation in the electoral process. He pointed out that Pakatan’s win was proof there were no manipulations by the EC.
But the reality is that Pakatan won despite the obstacles put in place by the EC.
It is the responsibility of the EC to ensure constituencies are approximately equal, yet it delineated some constituencies to be disproportionate compared to others.
The EC should also be encouraging a high voter turnout. And yet it set voting in the middle of the week and handled the postal ballots incompetently, which could have lowered the turnout.
In short, members of the EC have failed the rakyat. They simply cannot be allowed to remain in office. They should tender their resignations or be removed.
A total and absolute revamp of the EC and the electoral process is desperately needed.
We must not allow the travesty of the 14th General Election to ever happen again.
Syahredzan Johan is a partner of a legal firm in Kuala Lumpur with an interest in the laws that shape our country. He can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.
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