Saturday, August 27, 2011

Merdeka 54 – Where are we heading as a nation?

GE13 - need for clean,free and fair elections

The 54th year of Independence comes at a very crucial time in the history of our nation. It comes at a time when we are about to go into the most crucial general election in our history. There has never been so much excitement and uncertainties in any elections before. It is the first time in our history where the winner is so uncertain.

It is the first time when we have such a strong opposition to take on the mighty BN that has ruled with a firm hand for 54 years. It is the first time when the alternate cyber media, which has become well established, has become the most important tool to win the hearts and minds of the people. It is the first time when the people of all races and walks of life have realised the power of their vote to determine who governs for another term. There has never been such eagerness among the people to cast that all important vote as now. All these are signs of a thriving democracy which should be the pride of the nation.It is unfortunate that there are certain quarters that do not want to see the thriving of that democratic process with a free and fair elections,the fundamental pre-requisite for any democratic system.

The theme of this year’s Merdeka has been spelt out by the recent Bersih 2.0 rally where thousands of ordinary Malaysians of all ethnicity poured into the heavy fortified streets of Kuala Kumpur to demand for that basic right - clean, free and fair elections in their 8-point memorandum to the King.Yes,it is only appropriate that we adopt this “ clean, free and fair elections” as the theme for this year,for both Merdeka and Malaysia days. Such an election is paramount if we want our democracy to thrive.

It is ironical that after 53 years of self rule and 12 general elections Malaysians have to still resort to street marches to demand for free and fair elections. Of late a number of alleged irregularities have been revealed by the opposition,Bersih and other election watchdog groups. These which include phantom voters, cloned voters, non-citizens being on the voter’s list, immigrants given citizenship to vote and frauds in postal voting in particular in the Armed Forces.

Apart from these there are reports of corruption to entice voters, unfair media coverage of political parties and misuse of government funds and machinery for campaigns.The independence and impartiality of the EC had also come into question which undermines the basic requirements for free and fair elections. These allegations must be taken seriously by the EC and government and addressed with some urgency so as to correct them before the 13GE which many believe will be held very soon.

The pledge by the PM to form a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to act on these allegations may be encouraging but from what know his promise will just remain as one with no actions to fulfil that. As time is running and the elections looming what is needed urgently is not such a panel but a truly independent EC, police force, MACC and other enforcement agencies to implement the existing elections laws fairly and effectively without fear or favour.The EC must be supreme and subservient only to the King and all these agencies must not only be fair but also seen to be so in the eyes of the people.

After 54 years the nation is at the crossroads. The path it takes will very much depend on the outcome of the coming general elections. Its result must truly reflect the wishes of the people and in order to do that it must be conducted in a clean, free and fair manner where every single vote accounted for in a manner that will not cast doubts. Only then will the people accept whatever the outcome may be in a peaceful way that would reflect their political maturity.

The onus is on the government, EC and the various relevant institutions to ensure that the elections are conducted fairly. On our part let us vote with discern to elect the party that will take us into the future where citizens of all race and creed will be able to live peacefully and harmoniously finding a just and equitable place under the Malaysian sun and thereby realising the true goals of our Merdeka.

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