MAFREL, as a non-partisan election watch group started since 2003, has started its election watch mission to the by-election at P.44 Permatang Pauh since it was given Election Commission/SPR’s official accreditation on Aug 7th. Kol( R )Shaharuddin Othman was appointed as Mission Head while Ong Boon Keong, the MAFREL’s Northern Region Coordinator, was the Director of the Election Observation Mission, to spearhead the Observation Mission. Around 100 volunteers have been recruited thus far and MAFREL target to recuit 150 volunteers in all, so as to put enough scrutiny on the polling, which will take place over 28 Voting Centres and 110 voting stations on Aug 26th. MAFREL therefore welcome more volunteers to come forward to join the citizens’ movement for free and fair elections. Such mobilization is also justified by the well-acknowledged importance of the by-election at Permatang Pauh.
Findings so far:
Electoral Rolls Verification(ERV): 1. The electoral rolls to be used for this by-election is dated July 31st, while the last gazzetted electoral roll is dated June 19th. This is a notable departure from accepted practice to use only duely gazzetted electoral rolls for election. Enquiry from EC suggest that those voters who are found to have died or applied to move away, have been removed from the gazzetted roll to create the roll to be used for the by-election. The noted haste has disallowed normal public scrutiny into the amendments to the rolls. Specifically there is an inexplicable deletion of all 25 centurion voters from the gazzetted rolls. Have they been properly checked before that happen? A lack of transparency is also reflected by the refusal of the EC to upload the last quarterly supplementary electoral rolls to the EC official web site for overall, national scrutiny of the rolls.
2. Postal votes: All the 490 postal votes for Permatang Pauh are from the police personnel in the area. However the inclusion of a new District police HQ (Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah Seberang Prai Selatan) from Bkt Mertajam into Permatang Pauh Parliamentary area smack of Gerry Mandering way to unfairly influence the voting pattern in Permatang Pauh. The police station has 321 postal voters, accounting for 65% of the total postal voters in Permatang Pauh.
Implications: 1.The postal votes in Permatang Pauh only numbered 91 before the 2004 General Elections, where the BN candidate came within 590 votes to unseat his opponent, the PKR president. The addition of this new batch of postal votes after the General Elections seems calculated to finish the job for the candidate in the following election.
2. While the political tsunami on Mar 8th rendered any possible calculations with the postal votes irrelevant the 405 postal votes introduced by the police stations actually have been noted by a number of sources as having come to the rescue of the current candidate who won his state seat by a mere 553 votes.
Election Campaign Observation( ECO): 3. MAFREL observers have been assigned to monitor the campaign activities of all the candidates and found that the election campaign is full of violations on a daily basis. A Daily Election Index(DEI) is compiled and posted on the official web site of MAFREL ( https://mafrel.wordpress.com ) for this by-election to remind the candidates/parties of the violations of the rules on free and fair elections and the dire penalties that come from the law ie Election Offences Act 1948. The non-enforcement of such laws only serve to encourage the proliferation of illegal campaign activities, Permatang Pauh not excepted.
Election campaign activities which impinge of the freedom to vote include: violence and threat of violence to voters, candidates and the media-either through (suspected) campaign workers or the use of excessive intimidating police presence.
Election campaign activities that compromise fairness of elections include: abuses of public buildings, staff (especially police), functions, media; treating the voters and also the offerings of various types and under various disguises to the voters.
All such activities could combine to render the election results questionable and cast the winners’s legitimacy into doubt.
Appeals: 1. MAFREL therefore renew its call for the use of indelible ink to stop possible election frauds through impersonation and multiple voting;
2. MAFREL calls upon the EC/SPR to expand the scope of MAFREL’s accredited activities from the current restrictive `observation’ status to the freer `monitoring’ status; MAFREL also call upon EC/SPR to consider allowing enough observers to cover all voting streams instead of the current single observer who may need to observe several voting streams in a voting centre at the same time, from morning till the evening! Observers should be allowed free movement between polling centres/stations so as to allow observers to work more effectively;
3. EC should either clean up the electoral rolls or it should drop its own roll compilation and adopt the National Registration Dept’s better roll; This will also save huge amount of time and energies which can be put to better use elsewhere to improve the election system;
Lastly MAFREL wish to point out that every citizen has the right to vote in free and fair elections. There must not be threats, no undue influences, no buying of votes etc. MAFREL call upon anyone who witness any election offences to contact us immediately to facilitate actions and documentations. MAFREL’s hotline numbers are:
Enq: 013 5900339 (Ong) 019 4742200 (Jamal)