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Hitler's notorious minister of propaganda would have been proud of the way the editors of our English and some vernacular national media covered what is probably the most important event the country has seen in relation to public outrage over the way the ruling party has rigged the elections. The two English papers focused almost entirely on the massive traffic jams and the government's version of the historic gathering held to present public concerns on election rigging to the palace.

Such incredibly biased spin by our mainstream media of the Istana Negara march on Nov 10 and further efforts by the government to discredit the organisers and opposition parties is an attempt to conceal what almost two generations of Malaysians and international political and social scientists have written numerous books and research papers on: the systematic debasement of the credibility and legitimacy of the electoral process over the last 50 years.

Dishonest electoral conduct by the ruling party includes:

  • The manipulation of electoral boundaries

  • The vast disparity of voter numbers among the constituencies
  • The grossly unfair use of the governmental machinery in support of ruling party candidates
  • The growing incidence of phantom, postal and absentee voters
  • Various other irregularities and unethical practices
  • In addition, there is a denial of legitimate media space to the opposition parties; silencing of issues they have raised and minimal, if any, coverage of their proposals for change. It is no wonder that the leaders of the ruling party are confident the Barisan Nasional can be in power for the next 50 years.

    Readers interested in how the ruling party has manipulated the electoral process to its advantage are spoilt for choice. Reference to any of the following scholars: Sothi Rachagan, Mavis Puthucheary, Noraini Othman, Lim Hong Hai, Wong Chin Huat, Harold Crouch, James Jesudason, John Funston, Rainer Heufers, Bridget Welsh, Ong Kian Meng, Mustafa Anuar, James Chin, William Case, Francis Loh Kok Wah, Andrew Aeria and others.

    These will provide important facts and figures on the truth behind the facade of 'free and fair' elections in the country. Unfortunately such analysis and data have been deliberately obliterated Goebbels-style from the national media coverage so far.

    Finally, the Malaysian public will be interested to know some of the important ideas that have emerged from the independent scholarship on the reform needed to ensure a free and fair political process. These include:

    • A reintroduction of local elections.

  • Upholding the principle of 'One person one vote' by restricting the disparity in constituency sizes and prohibiting gerrymandering; or introducing the elements of proportional representation into the electoral system.
  • Adherence to the principle of administrative neutrality by barring ruling parties from buying votes through development pledges and misusing public service facilities and apparatus for electioneering purposes.
  • Ensuring free and fair access to mass media by all parties.
  • The elimination of polling irregularities by cleaning up the electoral roll, abolishing domestic postal voting and employing indelible ink.
  • Repeal of the1962 amendment to the Constitution which abrogated the Electoral Commission's right to enforce fair delineation of constituencies
  • Guarantees to ensure that the Electoral Commission is free from any form of political pressure or influence.

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