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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Watch out BN, the revolt of the middle class will be awesome

Sulaiman Kamal | 2:55 AM | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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We were told that there was no need for Bersih 2.0, that the country has always had free and fair elections. The Election Commission claims that its rolls are clean and there is not a single phantom voter. But in the weeks after the historic Bersih 2.0 rally evidence have surfaced to show how critical election reforms are needed. Not only are the electoral rolls filled with irregularities, there appear to be an organized scam going on to defraud Malaysian voters.
Dead voters, phantom voters, dozens of voters sharing one address, permanent residents, instant citizenship voters, clone voters and more – all these have been discovered in the rolls. The EC defends itself by saying there is no 100% clean rolls in the world but then there must be few that are as dirty as Malaysia’s.

There are too many such cases to be dismissed as mere technical glitch or human error. PAS has detected thousands of permanent residents on the rolls which were upgraded to citizen by the NRD within hours of their publicity. Clone voters with double MyKads have been discovered with suspicious permutation of numbers like only one digit different or differing by exactly 8. The clone voters were traced to Umno members. When checked with the NRD’s online verification system one MyKad was found to be valid while the other is invalid.
How did the EC which claims to have a 33 step validation process before a name is put on the rolls put in a permanent resident or an invalid MyKad? It all points to a collusion between EC and NRD to increase the vote bank of BN illegally.
A Biased Election Commission
The EC is supposed to be an independent and impartial body appointed by the Agung to carry out free and fair elections so that the will of the people can be expressed in choosing their government. However in deeds and actions it has shown itself to be anything but impartial. The Deputy Chief of EC lambasts the opposition for asking for election clean-up in language which would do an Umno leader proud.
The EC’s knee-jerk reaction to irregularities in the rolls is to claim technical error or human error and remove them from the rolls, usually within hours. Bersih’s President Datuk Ambiga has questioned the legality of the EC modifying the rolls at will. Her concern is not unfounded. If the EC can so easily remove clone voters from the rolls what is there to stop it putting them back on the eve of the election?
Against this backdrop of a very dirty rolls the EC has steadfastly refused to use indelible ink which would effectively stop any voter from voting more than once. It has instead opted for the expensive and cumbersome biometric system which would not be able to stop voters from voting more than once as long as they are listed multiple times in the rolls. The logic of the EC is not hard to fathom – if one drops the fantasy that they are an independent and impartial body.
Recently the embattled EC said it would strike off 12,000 voters aged 90 and above from the rolls in an effort to be seen to be doing some clean-up. The EC has been claiming for years that it has no power to remove dead voters unless it is presented with their death certificates. Out of nowhere the EC has suddenly found the power to remove 12,000 voters. This shows that the answers it gives the public are at its whims and fancies.
PAS has also highlighted that there are many Chinese voters who registered through PR parties who are not put on the rolls even close to a year. Anecdotal accounts by others say the same thing. What is going on?
Other shenanigans highlighted by Datuk Ambiga include moving out voters deemed to be opposition supporters from by-election constituencies. This is illegal as voters can only be moved through a delineation exercise. This has happened in the Ulu Selangor and Sibu parliamentary by-elections. The EC claimed it is refining its electoral boundaries to be more accurate but the timing is indeed suspicious.
BN’s Desperation
There is no doubt that BN is desperate to win in the face of Pakatan’s threat to its power and it is determined to win at any cost. Najib is also anxious to regain the two-thirds majority for BN to consolidate his power in Umno.
It is one thing to crave for victory but when it is being done without regards to the future of the country it is appalling and deplorable. Giving citizenship to thousands of unskilled Indonesian labourers in exchange for votes betray a callousness towards the welfare of society for the sake of maintaining power. When skilled foreign spouses are given the shoo-off or made to wait for interminable years, the ease at which uneducated Indonesians and Filipinos are given blue MyKads is an insult to Malaysians.
There is another 2 million foreign workers who are being registered with the biometric system. The illegal workers who form more than half are given amnesty to come forward. Will they be a valuable source to BN for citizenship for votes in future?
The social problems in the years to come will be devastating and we only have to look at Sabah for a preview. The native Malays will be the biggest losers as these instant citizens are also instant bumiputras who are more aggressive than them. When native Malays are already losing to illegal Indonesian retailers what about legal bumiputras who will compete with them for civil service jobs, scholarships, university places, licenses, permits, APs, contracts and government assistance? If the BN Malays do not wake up now as to what their leaders are doing to them they will wake up to a living nightmare soon enough.
We should not forget that Territorial Army companies are being set up in all 222 parliamentary constituencies and there are suspicions that they will be given postal votes. In conjunction with the biometric system which the EC has vowed to implement BN may never need to fear losing an election again.
Malaysia may become a fake democracy like Suharto’s Indonesia or Mubarak’s Egypt. Both these countries have manipulated their election system to an extent that they can never lose an election. Mubarak managed to win 90% of the parliament seats in his last election despite having almost no grass root support.
But we all know what happened to Suharto and Mubarak. BN should not think it can keep on manipulating the electoral system with impunity without regard for public anger.
Revolt of the Middle Class
The EC should not help BN win an election by deception. A government which has won by cheating has no legitimacy and no moral authority to govern. It can only govern by heavy-handed oppression which will increase public anger and hatred.
Can a government which depends on older generation rural voters, foreigners given instant citizenship, illiterate voters in rural Sarawak and naturalized Filipinos in Sabah to vote them in government properly without the support of the educated middle class? The middle class still form the largest group in the population although being congregated in urban areas they have less voting power than the much smaller rural constituencies due to gerrymandering by the EC.
Even now the BN government is at odds with civil society. It is frequently being criticized and challenged on corruption, defense spending, wastage, cronyism, unsavoury business practices, instigating unnecessary racial and religious issues, gutter politics, democratic rights and almost anything it does. In response the leaders can only give illogical, deceptive or superficial explanation as if the mentality of the educated middle class matches the people they depended to vote them in. A fine example is the idiotic comparison of the Bersih rally to the London riots.
Civil society is frustrated and disgusted at being treated like idiots by leaders who are not smart enough to see that the public is above their mental level. The wide support and participation of the Bersih 2.0 rally is a collective cry of frustration by civil society that they will not be talked down to.
Instead of hearing this cry the government has chosen to continue suppressing Bersih, ignoring the need for electoral reforms and treating the public as simpletons. BN is now on a death spiral in its relationship with the middle class. We may be witnessing the death throes of a dying regime.
The times have changed and the power of social media can change societies. It can galvanize and coalesce social forces which previously have no means of dissemination or concentration. A highly networked society is a democratizing medium against dictators seeking to impose perpetual rule. We have seen what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and the push for change sweeping the Arab world. But BN will not know what hit them when it happens. In their minds they are still dealing with idiots and simpletons in their corruption fueled dream world lulled by a sycophantic press

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