July 31, 2011
From Former US Ambassador to Malaysia John Malott to Prime Minister Najib
Dear PM Najib,
In particular, we now wonder how free and fair your nation’s elections are. We have learned that some of your country’s citizens believe that Malaysia needs electoral reform. On July 9, they marched with a coalition called Bersih 2.0, and they called for free and fair elections.
You responded by declaring Bersih illegal and suppressing the ‘Walk for Democracy’ with overwhelming Police force. The world noticed your heavy-handed reaction, and it wondered why a peaceful demonstration calling for fair elections bothered you so much – so much so that you were willing to risk Malaysia’s international reputation – and give your country and yourself a major black eye.
When you returned from your visit to Europe, you declared that Malaysia’s elections truly are free and fair, and that UMNO has never cheated in any election.
I am glad to hear that. Because it means that in Malaysia’s next general elections, you have nothing to hide.
Governments that manipulate elections have lots to cover up. But you say that your elections are free and fair, so that means you have nothing to be afraid of showing to all of us in the outside world, not to mention your own people.
Therefore, I am sure that you are willing to readily agree to the following proposals:
1) Allow international groups to observe your elections. Based on your assertions, they will find nothing amiss, and their reports will give credibility to Malaysia’s election results.
2) Allow observers from all political parties to witness the postal balloting that takes place on military bases. For years, the opposition has said that something is amiss. But since you say that UMNO never cheats, I am sure that they will find nothing wrong, and you will be vindicated.
3) Let’s put an end to all the accusations about phantom voters by using a simple, effective and cheap solution – indelible ink.
Your Elections Commission wants a super-sophisticated biometric system, but there is no way it can be in place by then – and many people worry that it can be manipulated. Indelible ink works – just ask the world’s largest democracy, India. I don’t think anyone has ever disputed the results of India’s elections in over 60 years.
4) Finally, let RTM be truly independent, like the BBC and NHK and the public broadcasting systems in Australia, France, Germany, and elsewhere in the world. RTM does not belong to UMNO. It belongs to the people.
As long as RTM – funded by all the people of Malaysia – acts as the propaganda arm of the 25 percent of Malaysians who voted for UMNO, no one can believe that Malaysia’s elections are fair and free.
So, my dear Prime Minister, it’s all very simple. You say that Malaysia’s elections are free and fair. Now you have a chance to prove it to the outside world and remove all doubts. And if your party wins, then the Malaysian people – and the world – might finally be convinced.
If you refuse these suggestions, then the doubts will linger, and your assertions about the honesty of Malaysia’s election will continue to be questioned.
*John Malott was former Ambassador of the United States of America to Malaysia