Wednesday, 8 May 2013

From "not fair but reasonable" to "only partially free and not fair"

Many people wrote about the "not fair but reasonable" judgement, used so often these days by independent advisers regarding corporate exercises.

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) has issued a report about GE13, titled "was GE13 free and fair?". The report is 124 pages long (apparently Malaysians really like long reports!), and issued today, quite soon after GE13 has ended. Its conclusion is "we conclude that GE13 was only partially free and not fair".

So there we go again, although the words used are different, the one thing in common are the words "not fair". Probably quite typical, since (unfortunately) Malaysia is not a very fair country. Most likely (partially) caused by the fact that Malaysia has the highest score on the Power Index in the world:

The PDI measures the distribution of power and wealth between people in a nation, business and culture, and seeks to demonstrate the extent to which subordinates or ordinary citizens submit to authority.

Returning back to the IDEAS report about the GE13, the eight reasons given were:

(1) The media was heavily biased in favour of Barisan Nasional. State-funded media platforms have been abused to project partisan views to the public;

(2) There were doubts about the EC’s impartiality and competency despite their many efforts to improve the electoral system. They were seen as being part of an already biased civil service. The fact that EC members repeatedly issued statements that could be construed as partisan did not help. Their defensiveness when criticised further angered the public;

(3) Trust in the integrity of the electoral roll is low. This resulted in the public being very cautious when there were reports of foreigners being flown in, when they saw foreign-looking individuals, or when the indelible ink was seen as ineffective;

(4) The Registrar of Societies did not treat all political parties equally, delaying the registration process of non-BN parties;

(5) Constituency sizes are too unequal, allowing parties that win many smaller seats to win parliament, despite not commanding popular support;

(6) Financing of political parties is not transparent, resulting in a big lack of clarity about the financial standing of the competing parties;

(7) During the campaigning period, government and armed forces facilities were repeatedly used for campaigning purposes during the official campaign period;

(8) Racial issues were dangerously exploited for political gains. There were many instances of BN fishing for votes by sowing mistrust between the Chinese and Malay communities.

Some of the above issues were acknowledged in the excellent article in The Edge, "Malaysia at Crossroads".

For more background in the Malaysian elections, I strongly recommend the articles from Bridget Welsh, especially "Disturbing questions surrounding GE13 polling".

We definitely hope Malaysia can move forward and improve a lot on all the issues raised.

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