Ukraine re-election: food for thought for a fair and clean election process for Malaysia in future

Media Statement
by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew

(Kuala Lumpur,  Wednesday): The recent Ukraine election was marred by serious flaws, irregularities and frauds. After a series of public protests staged by more than 200,000 supporters of Viktor Yushchenko(who garnered 46.70% votes against his opponent Viktor Yanukovich who obtained 49.42%) and numerous interventions and criticisms from several heads of foreign governments in the West and some UN senior officers who were monitoring the election process in Ukraine, the Ukrainian supreme courts have finally ruled that the election result was null and void and called for a fresh election to vote in a legitimate leader.

The 11th Malaysian general election was also marred by many serious flaws, weaknesses and frauds. The Election Commission even allowed extension of voting for another 2 hours in Selangor at the 11th hour without giving any valid reasons. Thousands of voters who may turn up to vote were not aware of such extension except for those who have very close connections with the ruling parties. Such serious irregularity has clearly contravened the very Election Act which states that voting hours must be followed strictly according to the gazetted one.

But it’s most unfortunate to note that nothing or little can be done to seek a redress or to hold the Election Commission for accountability, let alone to effect a re-election like the Ukrainians. Instead of holding the EC’s senior officers accountable for the serious flaws, irregularities and frauds, the ruling power has rewarded the Secretary of the EC with a promotion; he was recently made a vice-chairman of the EC when he was supposed to go into retirement in December this year.

While dissatisfied Malaysians would not take to the streets in great numbers, no foreign leaders would raise their eyebrows as they were not fully aware of the fact that the election process in our country was actually full of flaws, irregularities and frauds. The only thing they may be aware of was that there was no level playing field in election campaigns, such as media control and abuse of public facilities.

The time has come for Malaysians to press for a truly fair and clean election process. We do not wish to see that the opposition parties in Malaysia forced to boycott the elections in protest out of total frustration one day. Malaysians would have more to lose if the opposition forces were forced to such a corner.

The Election Commission does not need to go very far to learn how to run a fair and clean election process. They can learn from the Philippines and Indonesia, where all voters would be painted with a permanent ink which would not disappear within 24 hours. This would serve well to prevent multiple voting which happened widely in Terengganu and other crucial states in the last general election.

The Election Commission should also make sure every voter is issued a special identity card with individual photograph. If this can be done by its Indian counterpart where voters were in the tune of several hundred millions, we do not see why our EC cannot do the same as our number of voters was relatively much lower.

Under the current system, there is also no way for the polling agents to verify the true identity of the voters. They were simply seated too far away from the polling clerks who were stationed in the polling centres for the purpose of voters’ verification. The seating arrangement must be changed drastically in order to ensure proper verification of voters’ identity to prevent proxy and multiple voting.

The Election Commission has lost ALL its credibility as an independent statutory body. The opposition would seriously consider inviting UN and other international organisations to send their teams to monitor the entire election process to ensure a fair and clean election in future.

We would seek a meeting with the Election Commission to highlight our demands and press for the necessary changes to ensure a fair and clean election process, which forms the basis of a true and meaningful democratic system.


* Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP International Secretary and NGO bureau chief