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Let candidates know postal votes breakdown

First of all, as a concerned and caring citizen, I appreciate the work done by the Election Commission (SPR) to try and make Malaysian elections fair and free. Two significant examples were the amount of time given for campaigning and the 'open' casting of (some) postal votes.

I appreciate that the SPR is making an effort at improving the election process as this is the key to any democracy. As shown by the experience of our neighbours (and countless others) over time, rigged and non-transparent elections only lead to transient peace and power and eventually unrest and revolution by violent means will occur.

As an example, let us remember that Suharto's party won 97% of the parliamentary seats in Indonesia the election just before 'Reformasi' there.

As such the role of the SPR is critical. Admittedly some things are beyond SPR’s control such as the use of the mass media as propaganda tools by the government as many are owned by political parties either directly or indirectly.

One issue that has been the point of contention for a long time is the issue of postal votes. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to see how easily postal votes can be abused. Most postal votes are cast without SPR supervision.

Even when there is proper 'casting of votes' most essential services personnel are afraid to vote for the opposition. Postal vote boxes are sent to the counting centres by army personnel, again without SPR supervision

Under these circumstances, it is easy to re-distribute and even 'create' votes and send them to counting stations that 'need' these votes to win. Even if the Barisan Nasional were to win fairly, there will be suspicion that the mandate is not real but a 'mandate by postal votes'.

Although demanded by Bersih and Mafrel, it is not reasonable to abolish postal votes. Postal votes are practiced in various forms by almost all democratic nations. I would like to propose the following measures as a middle path that will allow postal votes to be as practiced as now but one that will prevent abuse of the system.

Action 1: Postal votes should be sent to the counting centres on election day just before polling time ends and not during counting process as is practiced.

Action 2: Postal votes should be counted and tallied separately. Of course, the total votes for each candidate will include both postal and normal votes but the counting official should announce the total votes won and the breakdown of normal and postal votes won by each candidate.

Our respected prime minister had promised a fair and transparent election and denied any effort at rigging the results. SPR has also made much effort at being transparent and fair. As such the Barisan Nasional has nothing to lose and a lot of credibility to gain if these steps are put into effect for any subsequent elections. This will improve the confidence level of ordinary citizens like me in the election process.

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