The decision by BN not to contest Penanti by-election may be based on their political calculations, nevertheless thanks to this decision, we could see a potentially first ever free and fair election in Malaysia! All along BN has been abusing the huge government machinery for their party campaigns-smearing the elections in the country. Now that this has been set aside will the election undergo a `cleansing’ instantly?
There are of course worries of old attitude dies hard-but let’s give the candidates a chance. This means that we will not give up observing elections-but on the contrary we should heighten our standards so that this by-election will set standards for all future ones!
Eg Pakatan persuaded Election Commission to reverse its decision to ban party tents outside the polling centres. We call upon them to reconsider that now that BN will not be contesting. Even the argument of insufficient campaign time does not work-as the independent candidates are suffering equally on this factor. The other argument is BN can sponsor a candidate. But without the use of BN logo and outward support in the media the sponsored candidate-if there are any, cannot take advantage of the connection. In fact a connection of any sort will disadvantage the candidate concerned.
There is also an issue of the right of independent candidates to contest on their own accord. Eg in Bkt Selambau there are similar prejudices against all independent candidates-but a few of them ended up taking up some hundreds of BN’s votes-thus disproving the self-interested accusation of Pakatan. It seems to be easy for their propaganda to paint all independent candidates as BN stooges-which need to be proven on case by case basis.
Beyond that the election should be seen as a potential for free and fair elections. Mafrel had planned a civil society and voters forum at 2.00pm on Nomination Day, to give space to the people to voice their expectations on the candidates and election-for the first time! The collected opinions will be used as a reference to all the candidates! Venue will be announced shortly.
Then there will also be a candidates forum where all candidates will be invited to face the voters and civil society. Since PKR and ex-PKR candidates have backed free and fair elections before we look forward to them agreeing to attending the forum. At press time ex-PKR candidate Aminah Abdullah has agreed in advance to attending the forum. We will approach all other candidates too-which, according to grape vines and news, include an ex-military guy (Mohd Sabery Othman) and a MCA linked candidate. We will know them on Nomination day!
We hope that these 2 functions will become `institutions’ for all future elections and become popular demands from the voters.
We look forward that all election visitors to Penanti will consider becoming election observers by attending a 2 hour training with MAFREL. Make a difference with your visit!
Look out for details!