Monday, May 06, 2013

A better tomorrow can wait!


The promised new dawn did not appear. The sweet taste of victory was crashed by the bitterness of defeat for PR in yesterday General Election. Was the outcome a complete loss? To a long-time political observer like myself, the outcome proves that things always turned out better than we expected but not as good as we hoped for. Yes, the outcome was better than what I had expected six months ago. And, yes, it was less than what I had hoped for on the morning of May 5. The optimist would see it as a cup that's half-filled while the pessimist will see it as a cup that's half-empty. Which one are you today?

If you choose to look at the bright side of things, there are quite a few things that we can be happy about despite the electoral upset. We can see that Malaysians are smart & brave voters who are not easily intimidated by threat nor fell for empty promises. That’s why the majority of Malaysians were not swayed from their conviction to vote for a change. They voted by PR. However, their wish for change did not translate into the change that they desired because our electoral system was not well-designed. This poorly designed system violates one of the basic tenets of democracy: one-man, one-vote. The representation system in Malaysia is skewered in favor of small constituencies at the expense of large constituencies. This led to an unusual situation today where we have two winners in GE13: BN, the official winner of yesterday General Election because it has secured more seats in Parliament as well as its rival, PR because it has won the popular vote. This is not an ideal situation and it should be rectified immediately.

The dissatisfaction among the PR supporters is not confined to only the failure of the electoral system to pick the winner of the popular vote as the winner of the election. There are also serious concern that the election could have been stolen from their party or coalition due to a few highly suspicious incidents. These include a large number of flights from Sabah & Sarawak to Peninsular Malaysia that seems to suggest an effort to plant voters into strategic areas; an indelible ink that washed off easily; the sudden appearance of ballot boxes at counting halls; and mysterious power outage during ballots counting. All these raised doubts that the election could have been compromised. Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of PR has announced this morning that he would not recognize the outcome of this general election.

This brings me to a very similar incident which happened 13 years ago: the US Presidential Election of 2000 between the then Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush and Democrat Vice President Al Gore. In the battleground state of Florida, there were a large number of irregular ballots that were rejected by Republican electoral officials in contravention of the American acceptable practice for ballots counting. The rejected ballots could tip the race to Vice President Al Gore. More importantly, the outcome of the vote in Florida would determine not only who would get the entire slate of electoral votes, it would also determine the winner of the US Presidential Election. After a prolonged standoff and an unusual intervention by a very partisan US Supreme Court, the state of Florida was awarded to President George W. Bush. His rival, Vice President Al Gore, who actually won the popular vote but fell short on the electoral vote, graciously conceded defeat. Al Gore did so because he felt that a prolonged fight would be harmful to America.

Today we are faced with the same situation. Should Anwar challenge the Election Commission and the outcome of this election? Yes and No. Yes, he should fight, not only for himself or PR, but to ensure that the sanctity of the electoral process is not violated. The problem is how to achieve this goal without dividing the people and the country. In the end, I believe that Anwar must sit down with Najib to come to a win-win solution. For the good of the country, Anwar Ibrahim would have to concede defeat gracefully. In return, Najib should magnanimously acknowledge Anwar’s sacrifice and promise to set up an independent commission to look into the conduct of the General Election of 2013 and to make recommendations for improvement in the following areas:
1. A better Standard Operating Procedures for the conduct of any election
2. A System of Representation that reflects the democratic rule of one-man, one-vote
3. The Right of Access to the mainstream media by all political parties
4. The list of permissible conducts by a caretaker government
5. Rules governing campaign financing and the giving out of inducement to voters (be it monetary or non-monetary gift)

I urge all PR supporters to remain calm and to accept the outcome of yesterday General Election as a continuous process of improvement in our system of government. To have a good government is not a destination but a long, arduous journey with many bitter setbacks and few sweet successes. Last night, we experienced both the sweetness and the bitterness of a closely-contested election. Let’s continue in this journey together for a better tomorrow for all Malaysians.

9 comments:

Bear said...

Well said, Alex.

Bear said...

Very thoughtful, Well Said, Alex.

Lisa Wong said...

yes, let's pray and wait for better tomorrow

jason yap said...

Exactly, I hope the new Government has heard our voice loudly and clearly through GE13, and should deliver the promises during election campaign and manifestos.

Unknown said...

I love reading your articles.. , please keep writing thanks a lot

leslieroycarter said...

Hi Alex:
Comment is straight to the point. But sadly, Malaysia lacks politician of that calibre like Al Gore as mentioned.

zainal said...

" These include a large number of flights from Sabah & Sarawak to Peninsular Malaysia that seems to suggest an effort to plant voters into strategic areas; an indelible ink that washed off easily; the sudden appearance of ballot boxes at counting halls; and mysterious power outage during ballots counting"..
Semua tuduhan ini perlu dibuktikan oleh penuduh. SPR seterusnya perlu memberi jawapan keatas tuduhan ini. Sehingga kini kedua-dua diatas tidak berlaku ie. tuduhan dgn tiada bukti dan SPR senyap sahaja (walaubagaimana pun tnb dan airasia menyangkal tuduhan tersebut).. Orang awam tanpa usul periksa, terus percaya tuduhan tersebut. ( Perkara yg tidak betul tetapi kalau disebut berulangkali atau disebut oleh ramai orang, akhirnya semua orang akan percaya perkara itu dianggap betul)

Desmond said...

Alex, your suggestion : "Najib should magnanimously acknowledge Anwar’s sacrifice and promise to set up an independent commission to look into the conduct of the General Election of 2013 and to make recommendations for improvement...." is just an impossible thing, don even dream of it also, come on...omg!

My Views said...

if you are hoping a thief to do a charity, its like hoping the sun to rise from the west. A person can cheat the election result, we can for sure concluded that they will markup the economic figure also to make them look better.