Despite numerous irregularities, there is still hope for the future.
It is reported that the Barisan Nasional political party won 133 seats in Parliament compared to 89 seats for the opposition political party the Pakatan Rakyat. It is also reported that Pakatan won 54 % of the popular vote but Barisan only won 46% of the total popular vote.
This is an unacceptable disparity. The division of the electorate into constituencies is clearly skewed. It is an understatement to say that this raises a serious question as to whether the newly constituted Parliament truly represents the people.
There is another problem. Was there freedom of choice?
In a democracy there must be freedom to exchange views and exposure to unbiased information. It is no consolation to hear it said that while the mainstream media was biased towards Barisan, the online media was neutral or that it backed Pakatan.
The mainstream media with far better resources reaches a much larger population. Radio and TV, funded by public funds, and the more accessible licensed print media are more powerful propaganda tools. It cannot be said that the people had freedom of choice when their minds were controlled with so much clear one sided information and one sided views over a long period.
What is said in Parliament by opposition members of Parliament cannot be read in the licensed newspapers nor heard in the news in the radio or TV. The news in radio and TV report only what the Government Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries say.
Failure of democratic freedoms was not the only problem.
As if all this is not enough what may be called ‘bribes’ were given openly to voters in the form of a peculiar and bold mechanism called ‘BRIM’, that is, ‘Bantuan 1 Malaysia ‘ or ‘Barisan 1 Malaysia’.
(‘Bantuan’ means aid. ‘Barisan’ refers to the ruling political party.)
Cheques of RM500 were openly given in remote villages to village folk quite at random a few days before election day and, believe it or not, this was shown on State TV as if giving these hand outs was a programme to alleviate poverty by the Barisan! The main media openly stated that RM 2.2 billion was given out to support Barisan.
They did not say where the money came from. It is believed it was from Petronas. The state petroleum corporation’s money seems to have been put to timely use. There was no vote in Parliament for this expenditure. Under a special extraordinary law, petroleum, the largest revenue earner in the country is not controlled by Parliament. It is controlled by the Prime Minister! It is small wonder that such great effort was taken to retain power.
The fact that Pakatan fought with these disadvantages, and despite so much said against the Pakatan in the powerful open mass media and so much unashamed ‘bribes’ given out, and moreover won a clear majority of the popular vote shows that they were helped by a miraculous public awareness and popular emancipation.
To add to all this, indelible ink being not actually indelible used to identify those who have already voted, foreigners being given citizenship to boost support for the ruling party, Malaysians overseas being excluded from voting, electricity blackouts while counting is in progress are also alleged and owing to the biased mass media widely believed to be credible.
After the Government suspended 5 Supreme Court Judges in 1988 and later set up a tribunal which expelled 3 of them, fears have been raised over the years that Judges can no longer be impartial. All of them being appointed by the same Government over the past 56 years reinforces such fear.
This leaves people who are dissatisfied without any impartial outlet to vent their grievances and to seek relief within the system. Since the dawn of history the fight between good and bad has continued unabated. Malaysia is noticeably faced with this conflict. It has to overcome. It will.
Ways have to be found. Man’s ingenuity knows no bounds. Persons put in authority who did not get a decisive popular vote will feel their lack of moral authority sooner than later hopefully.
A feeling of being cheated may have caused 80,000 people to gather in Kelana Jaya in spite of the rain on 8th May 2013.
The feeling of shame in accepting money from a candidate before election day is not a feeling that is impossible to bring to the fore. Men are born with a sense of pride. Often the pride gets submerged. No man wants to feel that he has no character. The moral uplifting of society will keep bad forces at bay. In a democracy, rulers will be hard put to rule a dissident population.
On an ironic note, to quote Barisan’s protagonist Dr Mahathir Mohamed himself, – ‘Malaysia Boleh’ ‘Malaysia can’.
The resources of Malaysians of all races creeds and religions as human beings is infinite. We have to wait and see.
I hope it will not be rough and it will not be for too long before the forces of good prevail completely. Or at least, practically completely.