Tuesday, April 30, 2013

13GE campaign lopsided

After 10 days of intense campaigning and 5 more day to go before the polls on 5/5,what do we observe on the ground as voters? As voters how has the campaign so far impressed us?

First and most obvious of course is the flag war that has intensified over the last few days with BN far ahead of PR. The number of BN dacing and its 1Malaysia flags far outnumber those of  the PR. In fact wherever we go we see a sea of blue colored flags lining the streets, fields and buildings. Will these flags really influence the minds of the voters? I doubt it will, instead to me it is becoming more of a show of power and wealth of the ruling party that cannot be matched by the opposition.
Display of flags may help a create a carnival-like atmosphere but I doubt they significantly change the minds of voters as most of them have already made up their on who they want to vote. It is not only unnecessary but a waste to spend so much money on flags and posters which will perish soon after the elections. Can’t the millions of ringgit be put to better use to help the rakyat struggling to make ends meet?
The second most visible activity that catches our attention are the many mega dinners with lucky draws and entertainments for the people all over. Free food, free entertainments and free cash have become rampant over the last few days to entice the voters to vote for them. It makes one wonder what type of political campaign culture we are promoting. Aren’t these practices blatant acts of electoral corruption that must be stopped immediately? Well if the caretaker PM and his deputy go round promising allocations and projects during the campaign period which they are strictly not allowed, what else can be expected of others below him.
The third important activity that goes on everywhere and every day late into the nights are the ceramahs. This time around the 13GE being such a crucial one, we see large crowds flocking to attend these ceramah.The opposition ceramahs throughout the country attract  mammoth crowds never witnessed before. These ceramahs may be the only source of information for the people on the policies and plans of the opposition parties for the nation and the people. The main stream media (MSM) are all so heavily pro-BN that the people have no choice but to rush to opposition ceramahs to get some information about the opposition parties in Paaktan Rakyat.  
In this era of advanced telecommunications and internet do we need to depend on such ceramahs for information? Why can’t we move on to a more intellectual level of political debates, forums and dialogues on national TV and radio? The people can watch these in the comforts of their own homes thereby avoiding traffic congestion and the risks of accidents and elections violence.
On the whole the campaign for the 13GE is seen to be lopsided with the opposition being denied a level playing field. It is not only strictly tied down by election rules but unjustly denied access to the state controlled MSM both electronic and print media. To make matters worse the opposition is subjected to unfounded accusations to smear its image in the eyes of the voters just before the polls without giving any opportunity for them to reply.
The new government that takes power after the 13GE should seriously consider changing our campaign system to elevate it to be at par with advanced countries where the government and opposition are provided a level field of play.  This can only be achieved by liberalizing the media and granting total freedom to the EC to stop electoral corruption particularly by the caretaker government of the day.
Judging by the reactions of the people so far and the sentiments on the ground, the opposition is seen to have gained much ground even in traditional BN strongholds. The BN on the other end seems to be lost for new ideas to thwart the progress of Pakatan that is becoming stronger by the day. There are strong signs of Pakatan forming the next government if the BN does not come up with some drastic surprises in the last few days. As citizens let’s pray for a peaceful election on May 5 and a peaceful transition of power if the need arises.

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