Malaysia’s Long History of Election Rigging

March 10, 2018

Malaysia’s Long History of Election Rigging


Image result for Najib Razak and Mahathir Mohamad of the same mould


In many countries in Southeast Asia, having elections is a meaningless exercise; in the end, the same party always ends up ruling the state.

Malaysia is a prima facie example. The quality of elections in Malaysia has been poor, primarily because of the practices of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. Methods such as gerrymandering, misuse of institutional tools, elite cohesion pacts, and malapportionment have been used to retain power in the past – including by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, just tapped by the opposition as their candidate. With that in mind, it’s worth looking at what Malaysian leaders have done to cling on to power in the past, while at the same time degrading the sanctity of elections in the region.

Elections in Malaysia have become a one-sided affair over the years. The BN returned to power for the thirteenth time in 2013, and not solely because of the reforms they have carried out in Malaysia. Scholar Kai Ostwald, in his article “How to Win a Lost Election,” argued that methods such as gerrymandering – the manipulation of district boundaries to advantage one party — have been used by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) to win elections. To create an additional district, the approval of two-thirds of the parliament is required and UMNO has always had a majority in parliament; thus from time to time they have redrawn district boundaries in their favor to capture the maximum number of votes, or to defy votes to the opposition. The fact that, as Ostwald points out, there were only 104 districts in Malaysia at the time of independence compared to 222 in 2013 speaks volumes about gerrymandering and the resulting quality of elections.

In his article, Ostwald has further highlighted the use of malapportionment by the Barisan National coalition to gain seats in the parliament. Malapportionment is the manipulation of electoral district boundaries to the ruling party’s advantage, wherein the pro-government districts have fewer voters and pro-opposition districts have many more.

Some amount of malapportionment is justifiable to improve the relationship between the representative and its constituents, and to give fair representation to Bumiputra people. But its excessive use by the UMNO has made the people lose faith in free and fair elections and derided the quality of it. In 2013, the use of malapportionment led to the incumbent BN winning 54 percent of parliamentary seats while losing the popular vote by a margin of around 4 percent. Ostwald insists that this has violated the “one-person, one vote” principle, that is fundamental to any democratic institution. Thus it has undermined elections at all levels.

Image result for Electoral Fraud in Malaysia

This is made possible by a partisan election commission that has refrained from keeping checks and balances over political parties. The election commission is supposed to act as an ombudsperson, but the fact that the head of state appoints the civil servants makes it a prejudiced body. Such practices have hollowed out the essence of elections in Malaysia. Though elections may have been frequent, they have always been well prepared for in advance by the ruling party.

Ostwald looked at the 2013 elections; Jason Brownlee, in his article “Bound To Rule,” explores former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s practices for dominating both national and inter-party elections in Malaysia. Mahathir faced opposition from some factions of the UMNO in the 1980s. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Musa Hitam, two prominent members of the party, rallied against Mahathir and ran for party president and vice president. To counter this challenge, Mahathir “prevailed by distributing cabinet and party positions to undecided delegation leaders,” according to Brownlee. After he won the elections, however, he got rid of the seven people in his cabinet who were not his supporters.

Later in the decade, Musa decided to run for reelection against the UMNO and gained ample support from his hometown. If Musa had succeeded, it could have been the biggest challenge to Mahathir’s political career. To counter this, Mahathir invited Musa Hitam and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah to join his cabinet. “Through the party’s organs, Mahathir had wooed Musa and his partisans back before they could compete separately in the next parliamentary elections,” Brownlee explained. However, Mahathir still faced opposition from Razaleigh and his newly formed alliance. This time in 1990, Mahathir dissolved parliament earlier than expected and shortened the campaign time, which caused serious damage to the opposition.

When the outcome is already apparent, elections hardly hold any value. Leaders in Malaysia have exploited the resources of the party and institutions and have made the most important part of democracies, the election, a secondary process.

Image result for Electoral Fraud in Malaysia

Gerrymandering, malapportionment, and the misuse of institutional tools are all methods used by the ruling coalition to manipulate the electoral process. This has directly as well as indirectly degraded the quality of elections and has eroded the faith of scholars in the Malaysian electoral system. With Mahathir as the opposition candidate now, it will be interesting to see if this year’s elections will be fair and square or whether the Najib Razak government will degrade the electoral practice to a new low.

Shrish Srivastava is a freelance foreign affairs writer.

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak is about to steal an election

March 9, 2018

Stop, Thief!

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak is about to steal an election

Image result for Najib Razak The Thief

Despite being embroiled in various scandals, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is about to “steal” the upcoming 14th general election by rigging the system, The Economist reported.

In an article titled “Stop, thief! Malaysia’s PM is about to steal an election”, the weekly British magazine said Najib feared that most voters would not vote BN to power again if given a choice.

As such, the report alleged that Najib is “taking their choice away” by means of gerrymandering and malapportionment, among other tactics. It cited the 1MDB scandal, in which US authorities say billions of ringgit have been misused, as the main point of argument.

“In most countries, a government that allowed US$4.5 billion to go missing from a state development agency would struggle to win re-election. If some US$681 million had appeared in the Prime Minister’s personal account around the same time, which he breezily explained away as a gift from an unnamed admirer, the task would be all the harder. An apparent cover-up, involving the dismissal of officials investigating, or merely complaining about the scandal, might be the last straw for voters. But in Malaysian elections, alas, voters do not count for much,” said the hard-hitting write-up.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing with regard to 1MDB, and has been cleared by the attorney-general of any misconduct.

The Economist further cited BN holding on to power despite losing the popular vote to the opposition in the 2013 general election, thanks to the “shamelessly biased drawing” of constituencies, which allowed BN the “ill-deserved victory” of securing the majority of seats in Parliament.

Read more: BN still at slight advantage with EC’s new proposal, says don

“Faced with the risk of losing power, the government is rigging the system even more brazenly. Parliament will soon vote on new constituency boundaries. The proposed map almost guarantees Najib another term, despite his appalling record,” the article said.

Rigging the election

The report then went on to explain the process of gerrymandering and malapportionment, which would favour the ruling coalition. It noted that “the practice (malapportionment) is so unfair that it is illegal in most countries, including Malaysia, where the constitution says that electoral districts must be ‘approximately equal’ in size”.


The report added that the federal opposition also had the odds stacked against it in the form of the “supine” media, as well as the police and judiciary, which seemed “more interested in allegations of minor offences by opposition figures than they are in the blatant bilking of the taxpayer over 1MDB”. It also pointed to the alleged “open violation of the constitution” by the Election Commission (EC).

The Economist also said that the latest federal budget was seemingly aimed at “buying the loyalty” of civil servants, by pledging to dish out a special bonus just after the likely date of the election.

Ultimately, the report concluded that a rigged electoral system trumped other biases, as it “robbed” Malaysians’ votes of meaning.

Tilting the playing field

Image result for Wong Chin Huat

If Najib Razak is poised to win GE-14, Malaysians make sure he is denied 2/3rd majority in Parliament. We need a very strong opposition to prevent him from creating an Islamic State under Hudud Law. The man will do anything to stay in power including making a deal with the PAS devil.

In another brief piece titled “Tilting the playing field”, The Economist also spoke to Penang Institute’s political analyst Wong Chin Huat (photo), who likened gerrymandering to “politicians choosing voters”, as opposed to an election, where voters choose politicians.


“Malapportionment – the creation of seats of wildly unequal size – worries critics most. This involves packing urban and minority voters, who tend to support the opposition, into highly populated constituencies, while the largely rural and Malay backers of the BN occupy depopulated provincial seats,” the report said.

It noted that an opposition MP thus needed more votes to win an election than one from the ruling party. As an example, it highlighted BN winning 60 percent of seats in the 2013 general election, despite receiving a minority of votes, and attributed its win to this tactic.

Read more: Know the power of your vote

The article also noted gerrymandering added to the problem. In the case of Malaysia, the report said, “This involves redrawing constituency boundaries to pack opposition voters into a few seats, while ruling-party supporters form a narrow majority in a larger number.”

The Economist said that the EC had initially produced maps for state assemblies that appeared to sort voters into ethnic ghettoes. “The revised versions, although less racially divisive, remain partisan,” it noted.

“Concentrating opposition supporters in the one seat should more than double the incumbent’s winning majority, but makes it harder for the BN’s critics to compete next door,” said the article.

It quoted former Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah lamenting the EC turning a deaf ear to grievances voiced by the opposition against such exercise, and the equally “little hope” of winning such cases in the courts.

Postal votes, and including voters with non-existent addresses in the electoral roll, were also cited as means of rigging the election.

Despite Najib “showering voters with handouts”, including 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) and civil servant bonuses, The Economist said that “the government’s zeal to diminish voters’ say in the election suggests it does not have total faith in its ability to win them over”.

From The Economist

Image result for The Economist Logo

Malaysia’s PM is about to steal an election

American officials say he already stole millions from taxpayers

IN MOST countries a government that allowed $4.5bn to go missing from a state development agency would struggle to win re-election. If some $681m had appeared in the prime minister’s personal account around the same time, which he breezily explained away as a gift from an unnamed admirer, the task would be all the harder. An apparent cover-up, involving the dismissal of officials investigating or merely complaining about the scandal, might be the last straw for voters. But in Malaysian elections, alas, voters do not count for much.

Under any reasonable electoral system, the coalition running Malaysia would not be in office in the first place. The Barisan Nasional, as it is known, barely squeaked back into power at the most recent election, in 2013. It lost the popular vote, earning only 47% to the opposition’s 51%. But thanks to the shamelessly biased drawing of the constituencies, that was enough to secure it 60% of the 222 seats in parliament.

This ill-deserved victory, however, occurred before news broke of the looting of 1MDB, a development agency whose board of advisers was chaired by the prime minister, Najib Razak. America’s Justice Department has accused him and his stepson, among others, of siphoning money out of 1MDB through an elaborate series of fraudulent transactions. Much of the money went on luxuries, it says, including paintings by Picasso and Monet, a private jet, diamond necklaces, a penthouse in Manhattan and a gambling spree in Las Vegas. In February Indonesia seized a $250m yacht that the Americans say was bought with Malaysian taxpayers’ money. Authorities in Switzerland and Singapore have also been investigating.

Mr Najib denies any wrongdoing—and of course he has loyal supporters. But his administration has not tried very hard to clear things up. Only one person has been charged in connection with the missing billions: an opposition politician who leaked details of the official investigation after the government had refused to make it public.

All this is unlikely to have improved Mr Najib’s standing with voters. Yet an election must be held by August. Faced with the risk of losing power, the government is rigging the system even more brazenly. Parliament will soon vote on new constituency boundaries. The proposed map almost guarantees Mr Najib another term, despite his appalling record.

How to rig an election

One trick is gerrymandering, drawing constituency boundaries so that lots of opposition voters are packed into a few seats, while ruling-party supporters form a narrow majority in a larger number. Lots of this goes on in Malaysia, as elsewhere: the new boundaries put two opposition bastions in the state of Perak into the same seat. Gerrymandering is made even easier by another electoral abuse called malapportionment. This involves creating districts of uneven populations, so that those which support the opposition are much bigger than those that back the government. That means, in effect, that it takes many more votes to elect an opposition MP than it does a government one. The practice is so unfair that it is illegal in most countries, including Malaysia, where the constitution says that electoral districts must be “approximately equal” in size.

Nonetheless, the constituencies in the maps proposed by the government-appointed election commission range in size from 18,000 voters to 146,000 (see article). The Barisan Nasional controls all the 15 smallest districts; 14 of the 15 biggest ones are in the hands of the opposition. The average Barisan seat has 30,000 fewer voters than the average opposition one. And this is the election commission’s second go at the maps—the first lot were even more lopsided.

Unfortunately, the electoral boundaries are not the only way in which the system is stacked against the opposition. The media are supine. The police and the courts seem more interested in allegations of minor offences by opposition figures than they are in the blatant bilking of the taxpayer over 1MDB and the open violation of the constitution at the election commission. The latest budget seems intended to buy the loyalty of civil servants, by promising a special bonus to be disbursed just after the likely date of the election.

But these biases, as bad as they are, are not the same as fiddling constituencies. As long as the electoral system is fair, Malaysians will be able to judge the government and vote accordingly. But a rigged system will rob their votes of meaning. That is the point, of course. Mr Najib may be venal, but he is not stupid. He fears that most voters would not return him to office if given a choice, so he is taking their choice away.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline “Stop, thief!”

Americans voted a Real Estate Celebrity as POTUS–That’s Politics

November 12, 2016

Americans voted a Real Estate Celebrity as POTUSThat’s Politics

by FMT Reader

After months of rallies and campaigns, banners and slogans, and countless trolling by both the Democrats and the Republicans, the United States voted for a real estate celebrity who has no political history whatsoever.

Image result for Donald The Trump

 Image result for Najib the Celebrity

He is an eccentric businessman who gave ample opportunity for haters to hate, in every given situation, be it his electoral promises, choice of words, demeanour even his hair. To his haters, he was everything a president should never be.

But, eventually the election came and America took a stand. They wanted the eccentric businessman to lead them. And everyone wants to know why.

What was the sentiment that drove his supporters, a large number of Americans, to vote for him? He had no track record to prove his capacity as a powerhouse leader and no one knows what are his strategies to make America great again.

Yet, with such ambiguity, the people voted for him and made him their president. Very much like how Malaysians had voted for the same coalition party for 59 years, or 13 general elections to be precise.

While one may think that the election campaign was ugly, it is the aftermath that has turned out uglier. Protesters took to the streets to profess their dissatisfaction. They are angry and they do not want Trump to lead them.

The elections were rigged they say, Hillary won the popular vote they claim (which she did), the whole process was a joke they roar.

Another déjà vu for those of us in Malaysia. Will all these protests bring about a different outcome than it did in Malaysia? I sincerely don’t think so.

Image result for bersih 5.0

This is mainly because, when we protest, we don’t really have an end goal. We are angry, disappointed and we express ourselves. We feel our voices are being ignored and that sends us into a fit of rage. To me, that is all there is to street protests. We challenge a system that we so graciously put in place, a system that we are a part of.

The Americans had just proved their participation by casting their votes less than 48 hours before these protests.

Image result for Protest against Trump at Trump Towers

Image result for Jamal Yunos and The Red Shirts

This is an indication that people, Americans and Malaysians alike, are very much confused in their political and democratic objectives and they remain emotionally charged. People are still very much fueled by factors like race, religion and gender and these, when cleverly knitted into a web of fear and uncertainty, sadly will determine who gets their precious votes.

America has chosen its president. Social media can troll him as much as it wants. People who aren’t in favour of him can mock his policies, his hair, and his poor vocabulary all they want, but will it change anything “bigly”? Absolutely not!

Will it “bigly” change the outcome in the 2020 elections? Most probably it won’t either. Because racial sentiments, divide and rule policies, religion and gender supremacy still binds the mentality of the voters, the outcome will be the same, be it in America or in Malaysia.

Looking at America today feels exactly like looking at Malaysia during the last few general elections. Something that no one would have expected to happen did because the fundamentals have now become equal.

Democracy, in essence, is a system where the supreme power is vested on the people. A system that enables a people’s government by the people.

Thus, it is powered by the exact same energy that powers the people into voting. If race, religion, gender and creed supremacy is what drives one to pick one’s government, then that is exactly the kind of government one will end up with.

Malaysians can learn quite a bit from the American elections this time, or rather refresher lessons. The next time you walk your way to the polling booth, look for a government that can enhance your lives with policies beyond the shackles of religion, race, gender etc.

Look for policies that can propel the nation and all its people to greater heights.

Can’t find any? Then opt for a lesser, maybe even unknown evil. A lesser, unknown evil, in my opinion, is far better than a known evil, as I would have known the degree of “evil” that I’m dealing with and how much I can tolerate.

For the past 13 elections, we have elected a single party to run our country. We have always been led to believe that this is the party that works in the best interest of this country and its people.

Fifty-nine years have passed, why dispute that notion now? Well, the answer is that a generation of voters have changed since but the ideology still clings on to each and every one of us.

So, only when we free ourselves from these “restrictions”, can we truly look forward to an effective, neutral and inclusive government. But are we truly ready for the leap?

Maybe yes, maybe no. But it is a perspective worth pondering and we, Malaysians are all still left with a little bit more time to decide.

An FMT Reader.


An Open Letter to Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (and those in the Hudud Technical Committee)

May 14, 2014

Open Letter to Dr. Zulkefly Ahmad on Hudud Technical Committee

Zaidby Dato Zaid Ibrahim

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad is a member of the PAS Central Working Committee. He is an articulate and pleasant man whom PAS uses regularly to show that it is a moderate party.

He wrote an open letter a few days ago addressed to all Malaysians. This letter, which was carried on The Malaysian Insider, addressed the topic of why PAS has not fundamentally changed despite developments related to its Hudud Plan.

PAS conceived the Hudud Plan to overcome restrictions to the implementation of the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (II) Enactment 1993 by removing limitations imposed by Federal law—namely, the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965—which limit sentences that Shariah courts can legally impose on offences within its jurisdiction. The idea is that, with the removal of the limitations, PAS will be free to implement hudud, even including the amputation of limbs.

Dr Dzulkefly has taken pains to reassure Malaysians that PAS has not changed fromdr-dzul what he described as a political party full of ideals. He says that the party is still committed to the Islamic ideal of a “Benevolent State” and that PAS is a party for all Malaysians and is committed to justice for all, despite its attempt to implement the Hudud Plan.

The reason he has had to pen such a letter is because he realises that PAS has suffered a great deal in pushing for the Hudud Plan, and by withdrawing the Plan he thinks Malaysians will forgive his party.

Dr Dzulkefly is someone I know reasonably well because we used to be in forums together in the days when I was active in politics. I remember him telling an audience in Melbourne that he was convinced PAS was a reformist party and that he—not some extremist group within the party—presented the face of the “real” PAS. Of course I knew that this was untrue. He was not the face of the real PAS and I did not contradict him then, but I will do so now.

The real PAS wants an Islamic theocracy. It wants to implement Islamic laws and hudud. Indeed, the real PAS has not changed that aspiration since its inception. Dr Dzulkefly and others like him are the veneer of a “moderate” PAS but they are the minority in the party. They do not represent the real PAS.

Dr Dzulkefly and others like him are useful to the party when it comes to attracting urban voters with Islamic aspirations, but when PAS passed a unanimous resolution to implement hudud at its most recent Congress, where was Dr Dzulkefly and the other moderates?

Dr Dzulkefly clutches at straws to defend the introduction of the Hudud Bill. He makes reference to the party’s obligation to fulfil its “mandate” to the people of Kelantan. But there was no such mandate given to PAS. PAS did not explicitly make the introduction of hudud a principal platform in its manifesto for the last General Election.

So far, PAS has used hudud only as a way to differentiate its position from UMNO, to revitalise the party from time to time, and as an outlet for conservative elements to assert themselves. Please do not drag the people of Kelantan into this political game.

Dr Dzulkefly confesses that, because the full force of Islamic punishment like hudud cannot be imposed by the Shariah Court due to Federal legal limitations, he feels deprived. He suggests that Muslims are prevented from practising their faith simply because some aspects of hudud punishment can’t be carried out.

But if what he says is true, then hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world must all feel similarly deprived because they too are practising their faith without hudud.

I’d have thought that a universal PAS man like Dr Dzulkefly would be gutted to impose Islamic laws in the country when there were also many others (Muslims and non-Muslims) in the country who were satisfied with the man-made laws promulgated during Merdeka and the formation of Malaysia.

Shouldn’t the universal man in him feel he should honour the Merdeka pact with other Malaysians, instead of just worrying about how his faith is somehow impaired without hudud?

Instead, Dr Dzulkefly says that hudud is a legitimate aspiration of PAS and its followers as part of the larger commitment to the Shariah. I have no issue with anyone having aspirations of any kind. However, the one thing that we must have in promoting our aspirations to the people is honesty in the idea itself.

If PAS is sincere in all aspects of implementing Islamic law and hudud, it should have had its Technical Committee formed 20 years ago when it first passed hudud into law. Despite its zeal, it should have thought about the effects and ramifications of hudud on the people before passing the law, instead of worrying about it now.

Does it make sense to the people of this country that PAS wanted to implement hudud in 1993 and passed a law to that effect—but then decided to form Technical Committee with UMNO to study its implementation only in 2014?

If PAS is sincere, it will tell Malaysians that the implementation of Islamic law will require fundamental Constitutional changes and a complete tearing down of our existing basic law—democracy, our freedoms and way of life as guaranteed by the Constitution will no longer be part of the system.

Dr Dzulkefly must tell us what the implications are for non-Muslims living in this Islamic state, and for Muslims too. PAS has to tell us the number of “moral enforcers” (the new Police Force) that will patrol and monitor our lives in every corner, waiting to arrest us for any possible offence (which will be many, since it will be a society free of all sin).

PAS will have to tell the people of this country that there will be a new legal system and that the civil courts (if they still exist) will be subservient to Islamic law. It must tell Malaysians that the Penal Code will be replaced with a new Islamic Code. It must tell Malaysians that even the judges, and the way we appoint them, will be different.

All judges must be Muslim. In other words, Malaysia will go back in time; from the 21st century to the 7th. We must tell the people the whole truth. It’s not being truthful if we hide the vision of this new country from the people by only using pretty phrases and slogans of justice.

I expect honesty from our leaders in whatever ideas they have. They must not hide their true plans for gaining power just by using sweet slogans. If Malaysians need a new system to replace the current one, whether legal or economic, they must be told in detail what the new system will be.

Do not couch things in vague concepts to sell political products. What is the Islamic concept of the Benevolent State in practical terms? If Islam is for all, as is always trumpeted, then why is hudud to be implemented only in Kelantan and only for Kelantanese Muslims?

Why is there a need for political calculations? Suddenly we have experts saying that even the Rulers are subject to hudud but the 1993 law did not say so. The people must know the details; and if, for whatever reason that I might not comprehend, they want to change and follow PAS in all these reforms, by all means go ahead.

Malay leaders are seldom forthright and candid in their views when dealing with the people. UMNO uses race and religion to put fear in the Malays, and in doing so it divides and polarises the country. PAS is no different, except it uses religion.

PAS sells concepts like the Islamic State, “Islam for All” and so forth, under the banner of Islamic justice and yet it conveniently excludes non-Muslims when it discusses the impact of such measures. The party touts ideas like the Benevolent State without even telling us in detail what it means in terms of governance.

Can PAS show how “Islamic governance” or “Islamic economics” (or Islamic law for that matter) in Kelantan is materially different from what was practised in the BN states for the past 23 years? How is the “Islamic version” a source of inspiration? I doubt if PAS has anything to show for this other than slogans and dress codes.

I take this opportunity to appeal to all Malaysians with this open letter. We live peacefully today because of the present system. Our economic development has been unimpeded because we have had the same system since 1957.

Our democracy, although flawed, and the principle of separation between religion and the affairs of state (a principle now under severe attack) forms the Constitutional and legal basis of our country. This must be protected at all costs.

The alternative, no matter how sweet the sound and how noble the principle, seems to be a stone’s throw from despotism and authoritarian rule.

The issue is not just a question of implementing a new criminal law. It involves the much wider question of whether we want to replace the current system, under which Muslims and non-Muslims agree by consensus to the laws that govern us all, with a new system where only Muslims decide the laws of this country.

That’s the real issue.



UMNO’s Saifuddin calls for removal of Election Commission Chief!

by Eileen Ng
JANUARY 14, 2014

 Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, speaking at a forum on electoral forum yesterday, says the Election Commission needs a new chairman who is not beholden to Barisan Nasional. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, January 14, 2014.

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, speaking at a forum on electoral forum yesterday, says the Election Commission needs a new chairman who is not beholden to Barisan Nasional. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, January 14, 2014.

Umno’s Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah has joined the chorus calling for the removal of the Election Commission (EC) members, especially its chief, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof.

He said there was a need for a new EC chairman, who was impartial, in the wake of the public’s loss of confidence in the commission.

“We need someone who is passionate, independent and who does not say things on behalf of BN,” he said, referring to the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional. “You are not helping BN anyway,” he said at an electoral forum last night.

Newly elected chairperson of electoral reform coalition Bersih 2.0 Maria Chin Abdullah had called for the removal of all EC members, citing loss of confidence.

She had said a petition drive would be launched to be delivered to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The statement came in the wake of an admission by former EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman that past redelineation exercises were designed to keep certain parties in power.

Abdul Rashid led the EC in managing six out of the 13 general elections, as well as four redelineation exercises.

Saifuddin, who is CEO of the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation, said a more independent EC would enable both BN and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat pact to come together to negotiate on the proposed redelineation exercise.

PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli said the people had talked about reforming the EC for years and had even taken to the streets in support of electoral reforms.

He agreed that both Abdul Aziz and his deputy, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, needed to be removed but noted that there was a “total mobilisation” by BN in defence of the two officials.

Rafizi said the lack of response from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to Abdul Rashid’s admission was a manifestation of how BN was retreating instead of going forward towards bipartisanship to strengthen democratic institutions.

On the redelineation exercise, the first-term Pandan MP said PKR’s stand was that it should be done on a basis that ensured equitability and fairness rather than the number of seats.

“Any change has to be structural in nature. The dissatisfaction is not in the number of seats but how the seats were gerrymandered in such a way that Parliament does not represent the voices on the ground.”

He said the matter could only be resolved if all political parties agreed on an acceptance variance on the size of constituencies and an assurance that minority interests would be looked after.

Meredith L Weiss, visiting associate professor in Southeast Asia Studies at John Hopkins University, suggested that there was a need to come up with a mechanism on campaign financing to enable the EC to monitor not just candidates’ spending during general elections but also those who are donating to their campaigns.

Social activist Hishammuddin Rais alleged that the EC was doing a “con job” and that Pakatan Rakyat or any other alternative force would never win the general election if the same structure was in place.

“We need to change this,” he said.

2014 calls for PRUDENCE

December 28, 2013

2014 calls for PRUDENCE

by The

2013 is coming to an end. It started highly charged on issues surrounding the 13th General Election; which witnessed Barisan Nasional retaining their power for the next 5 years. Various promises were made. Sweeteners were sprinkled to hood the public into believing that a better future holds in the coming months and years.

Nevertheless, barely 6 months into regaining Putrajaya, all hopes of joy and dreams of the rakyat to enjoy their hard eared money have been shattered in the wake of escalated cost of living. The government has made their promises sour in taste by announcing various prices hikes of goods and services as the closure to the year.

The public by large are flabbergasted in the manner policies are being hammered through, that will take toll on their incomes directly.

Big Spender Rosie and accomplice NajibIn the name of subsidy rationalisation and strengthening fiscal position, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has not left any stone unturned in ‘punishing’ the people of Malaysia by upping prices on daily essentials. First it was the hike in fuel price by 20 sen. Well as usual his justification was that we have one of the lowest priced fuel in the region. So subsidising it heavily does not make sense.

Then the sugar subsidy was removed. Again a very unsubstantiated, flimsy and lame excuse was used. Apparently the number of diabetics are on the rise because the government is subsidising sugar, thus the need for the move. What a genius deduction made by a person who has pretty much lost touch with the reality indeed.

But Najib was still not too appeased with the savings as he felt that more needs to be done to ‘safeguard’ the  interest of the public. Thus we are bracing a further rate hike on highway tolls and electricity in 2014.

And as icing, there is near confirmed possibility of hike in school bus and public transport fares. Taxis, buses, trains, and the LRT will all cost more in the coming year.A timely Christmas and New Year gift from Putrajaya for 2014.

As cumulative consequences and in definite terms, the overall cost of living will only spiral up as production of goods and services will also cost more. The entire supply chain  will not be spared and eventually the cost will drop flat on the laps of the consumers.

The hardest hit will be the middle income group which is already in a limbo with the current economic situation. Wages have not seen significant changes in parallel to inflation. The power of each ringgit has shrunk in its capacity over the years. It is baffling as to what is defined as a high income nation in the eye of the Malaysian government when in actual sense the purchasing power does not improve with time.

Consumers will need to dig in deeper into their pockets come 2014. A chunk of their salaries will go to paying higher current bills for sustenance; thus what will be left for savings will demand sharp juggling skills.

With a gloomy outlook on the global economic front coming ahead next year, it will be a much tougher battle to handle.

With many drawing up their New Year’s resolutions for 2014, please do keep in mind that financial prudence is highly recommended to be on the top of the list. That little pay increment or bonus one may obtain should be spread thin and well to cover any other surprises that BN may further spring on us.