The election administrators in Malaysia are rather scattered-the SPR, the Police/PDRM, the MACC/SPRM, the local governments, the Media etc are running their own shows, with little or no reference to each other. The conflicts and duplications can be quite messy. However the administrator with about the highest profile has been the police. This are a small compilation of their actions-and the responses from other stake holders:
1. Disallow open air ceramahs -at least 2 ceramahs in Bkt Gantang and 1 in Bkt Selambau had reportedly been disrupted by police using force-where 30 over people had been arrested in 1 of them. If the police disallow party campaign before the official campaign period these are the questions for them:
-why they don’t disrupt party campaign by the BN-with their banners, posters, operation centres being set up everywhere before the official campaign period? Also BN had used a school to announce its candidates in Bkt Selambau and did their ceramah there as well?
-why do they take action where the ceramahs cannot be said/proven to threaten security?
2. Disallow talking about Altantuya, the royalty etc at ceramahs, where these issues are widely known to put 1 party on the defensive. Why are the police interven into the campaign debates on behalf of 1 party when they are the keeper of security-not the party entrusted to make policy on campaign freedom, let alone a campaign agent for any side? This ban, while withdrawn after it being flaunted by the Pakatan politicians, reflects a political bias on the part of the police. They should remember that they are supposed to be neutral;
3. Set up `pondok polis’ (police tents) in all corners of the 3 constituencies, with a big head quarter in each, as part of an expansion of police roles in election and supported by huge budgets. Is this necessary? Is this not wasteful? Has there been sufficient threat to security to justify their heavy presence? Have they considered that their heavy presence could intimidate some voters from coming out to vote, thus denying their consititutionally guaranteed voting rights?
4. Disallow observers to witness the postal voting process by police. Is there anything to hide?
5. The police seems oblivious to the abuse of government vehicles during party campaigns, abuse of government personnel, halls, media etc to conduct campaign on behalf of 1 party. Why are they not upholding the laws of the land?
From these non-exhaustive evidences in the policy and conduct of the police as an election administrator there are much the police need to improve in terms of professionalism, efficiency, non-imposing, non-partisan etc. They need to learn above all, that the election process is about for the people to make choices, under informed condition and under no duress whatsoever.