MAFREL’s Election Observation Report before Polling Day
Give free and fair election a chance!
Prepared by :
MAFREL Permatang Pauh Election Observation Mission
Aug 25th 2008
Ong Boon Keong
MAFREL Permatnag PAuh Election Observation Mission
After witnessing the P44 Permatnag Pauh by-election thus far MAFREL find that the daily violations of election laws and the norms of free and fair elections means that the election results, whatever it may be, would be tainted. MAFREL would sound the alarm that the forces against free and fair elections will be expected to try their best to undermine the credibility of the election –together with the people’s choice, up to the last minute of polling and announcement of result. MAFREL call upon all parties concerned to be on red alert against any actions from any side to sabotage the election and frustrate the will of the people/voters. Voters and party workers are reminded not to react to any provocations from any side which may result in the entire election being nullified.
2.1 Electors’ Roll Verification (ERV)
2.2 Election Campaign Observation (ECO)
1.1 After the announcement of the timetable of by-election for P44 Permatang Pauh by the Election Commission (SPR) MAFREL launched its observation mission to observe the by-election.
1.2 An operation centre was established at 1508 Jalan Arowana, Permatang Pauh, to facilitate the observation mission in terms of recruitment, training and briefings volunteers. Significant benefits were derived from the training and from the trainees from the observation mission of the Mar 8th 12th General Election which was only a few months before, despite the haste that the Permatang Pauh by-election was called.
1.3 Up to today MAFREL signed up over 130 volunteers to undertake the observation mission, despite the lack of any funding towards the mission.
1.4 MAFREL was able to carry out the following observations up to this point:
1.4.1 Electoral Roll Verification (ERV)
Ground checks were carried out on the following types of voters: voters over 100 years old who had been deleted from the June 19th gazzetted rolls-check if there are any survivors; voters between 85-100 years old who are on the roll-to check if they had passed away; addresses which have excessive registered voters;
1.4.2 Election Campaign Observation (ECO)
Election observers were trained to observe election campaign from all candidates to see if they violate any election laws such as non-corruption, treating, violence, abuses of public buildings, human resources, functions, fund etc.
A Daily Election Index (DEI) is compiled and uploaded to MAFREL’s web site for this election observation mission : https://mafrel.wordpress.com
1.1 Electoral Roll Verification (ERV)
1.1.1 The electoral roll to be used for the by-election, dated July 31st, is an new roll updated from a gazzetted roll of June 19th. This is a major departure from the practice of using only duely gazzetted roll for elections.
1.1.2 Despite the insistence by the Election Commission that the gazzetted roll are unblemished and unchallengable there are many occasions where election observers find mistakes in the rolls-including this one for Permatang Pauh. Here is an example of a voter who is found on the Election Commission compiled roll –which neighbours testified as having died over a decade:
The frequent appearances of such anomalies in the rolls throughout all elections so far testify to fundamental weakness in the data base of the Election Commission.
1.1.1 The provision of the electoral at a considerable cost to MAFREL (about RM250.00) means that civil society’ scrutiny of the roll is restricted.
1.1.2 The quarterly update to the electoral roll had been displayed on Election Commission web site. But from the last quarterly update the quarterly update was only displayed in the voting districts concerned-thus making a nation wide scrutiny and monitoring of the rolls’ updates impracticable. The transparency of the electoral roll updates suffer as a result of such practice.
2.15 The electoral roll updated to July 31st from June 19th’s gazzetted roll is suspected to be carried out with undue haste. While the EC claimed that the updates only involved taking off dead and moved-out voters it is attracting suspision that some voters may be deleted without proper check eg all 25 100-years and older voters had been deleted –as though to preempt election observers finding out about roll anomalies, as happened before. The short time available has not allowed for a comprehensive checking of all identified suspect addresses/voters. Another problem facing observers is a lot of voters and addresses are not traceable-showing a problem of lack of updating on the EC’s electoral rolls management system.
2.16 The EC has been able to provide sortable ACCESS files for the electoral roll-a marked improvement from the past where voters’ roll are only provided in PDF files.
1. Election Campaign Observation
1.1 MAFREL has compiled a Daily Election Index (DEI) to track the changes in the election offences during the election campaigning in Permatang Pauh. See graph below for the cumulated results till today (Aug 25th).
Comment: The DEI shows that there are almost daily occurences of various election offences that impinge strucurally on the freedom and fairness of the election. There seems to be no law enforcement against such flaunting of the law (Election Offences Act 1948, especially) that the offences seems to persist throughout the entire campaign period.
1.1 The types of election offences committed by the various parties/candidates are worrying in view of their blatant nature and their potentials to deflect the voting pattern of the voters:
There are 2 types of violations:
a. Violations aginst freedom of the vote: violence and threats of violence by party workers or the fear-inducing police. With 6000 police force on the streets of Permatnag Pauh-where there are about 60 000 voters, on average 1 police is handling about 10 voters-an obvious sign of excessive, intimidatory police presence. There has also been complaints of violence alleged by party workers –and investigations are still going on. The police and other agencies should deal with these complaints as expeditiously as possible or else the intimidation will deter voters participation in the election.
b. Violation against fairness of election: abuse of public resources, treating and offerings to voters, abuse of government functions, abuse of political authorities, cheating/vote buying and malicious campaigns (eg producing fake banners) can combine to compromise the fairness of the elections.
1.1 Other than the more quantifiable offences there has also been a well noted complaint that the election’s proper focus on policy issue and options had been effectively deflected by pervasive racial and personal politicking. Such campaigning may succeed in short run for the candidates, but the success that derives from such negative campaigns will harm the long term development of a healthy democratic culture in Malaysia.
1.2 The maintream media-be they state controlled or party controlled media have shown a marked bias such that they can be failrly said to be partisan media which campaign for 1 side of the political contest. The room left to their opponent is the cyber space –which has been better utilised by the latter.
1.3 There is a noted prevalence of the offences perpetrated by the ruling parties at Federal level, compared to their opponent. This seems to sadly reflect a persistent habit to abuse public resources in party campaigns. An encouragement sign is the Federal opposition parties-who control the state and locla governments had so far resisted the abuse of state and local government resources to counter the Federal ruling parties. Since the Federal ruling party control the policing and prosecuting power of the country there is little prospect that law enforcement against the ruling Federally partes will be carried out, while the credibility of such government arms suffer.
After witnessing the P44 Permatnag Pauh by-election thus far MAFREL find that the daily violations of election laws and the regular flouting of norms of free and fair elections means that the election results, whatever it may be, would be tainted. MAFREL would sound the alarm that the forces against free and fair elections will be expected to try their best to undermine the credibility of the election –together with the people’s choice, up to the last minute of polling and announcement of result. MAFREL call upon all parties concerned to be on red alert against any actions from any side to sabotage the election and frustrate the will of the people/voters. Voters and party workers are reminded not to react to any provocations from any side which may result in the entire election being nullified.
Prepared by :
Ong Boon Koeng
Director of Permatang Pauh Election Observation Mission
Aug 25th 2008