Thursday, November 08, 2007

Malaysian polls - a case of Bersih vs Kotor

This post is dedicated to my friends Dave and Elizabeth Wong.

Bersih in the Malay language means ‘clean’ – ‘clean’ as in ‘not dirty’.

It’s also the acronym of a group of 60 Malaysian NGOs concerned about the integrity of the Malaysian electoral process. I suppose the very meaning (in Malay) of the acronym for this coalition of NGOs is in itself an indictment of the Malaysian Election Commission (EC).

The truth is the EC is neither trusted nor respected, and alleged as not independent of the government ..... yawnnnnnnnnn.

In fact the allegation goes as far as to say the EC works as if it’s a direct appendage of the ruling party UMNO* ..... yawnnnnnnnnn.

*Though the government of the day is formed by a coalition of parties called Barisan Nasional, the real power lies in its biggest party UMNO

Hence Bersih arose as the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections. And if its appellation is tautological, given the Malaysian scenario, it's quite understandable.

My only discomfort with Bersih is its makeup, comprising not only NGOs but also the opposition parties, chief amongst which are the DAP, PAS and PKR. I personally feel the participation of polls-directly-involved parties has somewhat diluted the impact of Bersih’s campaign and invariably diminished its neutral status and thus credibility, but I was told by a sweetie I have been too idealistic and not politically realistic. Ah well, who am I to dispute a sweetie ;-)

OK, be that as it may, the fact is that the Malaysian voting public, regardless of whether they are supporters of the ruling coalition or opposition parties, are aware, if not already convinced that not all is kosher with the electoral process. Of course it comforts one side while it dismays the other.

As an example, Malaysiakini recently reported the opposition DAP complaining about the questionable increase of 8,463 new voters in the Ipoh Timor parliamentary constituency. And that’s only half a year’s figures, meaning there’s more new voters of various denominations yet to come into Ipoh Timor.

By some strange coincidence (if you believe in Malaysian political ‘coincidence’) the incumbent MP for that constituency is none other than Opposition Leader, Lim Kit Siang of the DAP party.

In the last (2004) general election Lim
defeated Thong Fah Chong of the MCA-BN by a whopping majority of 9,774 votes.

Apart from the alleged gerrymandered transfer of 2,231 voters of a different constituency into Lim’s electorate, there has been a far more frightening revelation that went beyond gerrymandering. It's the incredible inexplicable increase of 3,208 postal voters for Ipoh Timor.

Postal voters are usually servicemen, but there is no new army camp or new police station in the vicinity. It’s another compelling reason why the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections has adopted the acronym of Bersih.

For more details on the newly discovered residential (phantom-ish) paradise in Ipoh Timor, please read the story in an earlier post Clear & Present Danger for Lim Kit Siang.

Well, It’s hardly surprising that with the general election just around the corner, Bersih wants to have a protest rally on Saturday at Dataran Merdeka, the capital’s centre point, to demonstrate for electoral reforms.

Bersih (Clean) – electoral reforms – gerrymandering – have you got the message yet?

OK, after the protest rally the organisers plan for the expected 10,000 participants
to march peacefully to the national palace to submit a memorandum to the King regarding their concerns about the integrity of the electoral process.

I don’t mean to be cynical about the likelihood of the King doing anything but well, you know the story of the drowning man and the straw!

But that's now a moot point. When Bersih applied for a police permit for the event, I knew it was not going to get it, for the simple reason the de facto PM (you know who, don’t you) had instructed urged the police authorities to, no, not just disapprove Bersih’s application but, apprehend those who organise this gathering.

When it comes to politics where SO MUCH would be at stake, we Malaysians don’t do things in half measures. Why only 'disapprove' when the police can bloody (pun intended) 'apprehend'? We are most Boleh when not Bodek-ing or Bohong-ing.

Those poor bastards –what choice do they have? And I am referring to those police.

Yes, like the pronouncement of the ancient Pharaohs, it was a case of “So it was said, so it shall be done!”

The police rejected the application by Bersih for a permit to hold a rally ..... yawnnnnnnnnn.

Malaysiakini informed us that Johari Baharom the Deputy Internal Security Minister said:
“From what I understand, police did not issue the permit as the ........”

Hahahahahahahaa (with tears), we understand too, Minister!

Defeat the new Triad


  1. be that as it is , we note no commitment on your esteemed part to either reject or support this Bersih Xtravaganza, other than your usual discourse as an observer from errrrrr afar. you may run the risk of being labelled very soon ( and soon enough ) as the quitessential Malaysia Boleh 'defacto' detached " I told you so " kind of inconsequential noisy teh tarik talk champion. Some people call this syndrome as NATO

  2. Hello KTEMOC
    I tend to agree with many of your opinions. Mixing NGOs and opposition together in the same camp, diluted the whole purpose and jeopardise the credibility of the NGO's activities. This trend, so typical of Malaysian opposition parties, is very unusual in the so claim developed democratic countries; unusual to see opposition parties that shamefully hijack NGOs activities.

    Ps: I am just one of the potential voter who is unaffiliated to any political party (including ruling). I will vote according to what I feel is best for the country. My opinion is probably a reflection of a large number of other voters in the same boat. Hence, the thought count.

  3. Yupe, everyone know the outcome. At least they try. You never know when you try it. The lawyer just make their move on PutraJaya. We don't expect Sultan Azlan Shah to speak out on the clean juridical call, but he make the move that (still) surprise many(if not taken hint from RPK blog).

    Will BERSIH take plan B maneuver ? Or there will be a HUGE SURPRISE on D-day ? You never know. This is Bolehland anyway ;)

    IMHO, the "neutral" call are blatantly ironical. NGO are indirectly affected by country policies. But the people and opposition are the body that DIRECTLY affected.

    If you learn the story in East German, where all legal method are blocked, it is matter of time the country go bankrupt. Because Malaysia is a mutli-racial-but- -ketuanan-umno-craze country, this will be WORST than East Germany if we enter the bankdruptcy stage.