LETTER | Malaysians are looking forward to a fair and peaceful general election.
This is why a lot of them were disappointed when the Registrar of Societies imposed a temporary dissolution order upon Bersatu, one of the main opposition parties, on the April 5, 2018.
The party, it is alleged, had failed to adhere to certain requirements pertaining to internal party elections as stated in its own constitution. Some of its members had lodged complaints with the ROS. Bersatu officials had provided an explanation to the ROS.
If there was non-compliance on the part of Bersatu, it was an administrative issue which could have been handled in a different way without imposing a temporary dissolution order and threatening de-registration.
By dissolving the party on the eve of a general election, the ROS has tarnished the practice of democracy in Malaysia. This has never happened before. It has created a new low at a time when Malaysia’s international image has become sullied as a result of a massive financial scandal.
It is not just the ROS. The Election Commission has reportedly banned the opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan, from using the pictures of its leader, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in its campaign posters.
The ostensibly independent Commission’s argument is that Harapan is not a registered coalition and therefore Mahathir has no locus standi as its chairperson.
In the 1999 general election, there was an opposition coalition called Barisan Alternatif which was also not registered, and whose de facto leader was Anwar Ibrahim.
A picture of him with a black eye was widely distributed throughout the country especially by two of the coalition partners, PKR and PAS.
It was the opposition’s main campaign poster. There was no attempt to ban it by the Election Commission or anyone else. Why? Is it because the ruling BN at that time was led by a different leader?
Over the next few weeks, many other aspects of the electoral process, from the campaign itself to actual balloting, may give raise to dissent and controversy among the electoral actors.
The EC and other institutions such as the police will have to navigate these issues with a high degree of fairness and integrity.
They must prove through deeds that their ultimate commitment is to the ethical principles that guide the work of the EC or the police.
They do not serve the personal interests of the man at the helm or of the outfit that he leads.
CHANDRA MUZAFFAR is the chairperson of the board of trustees, Yayasan 1Malaysia.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.