Do you believe in miracles?

Raja Petra Kamarudin

The Chairman of the Election Commission (EC) has proposed that the practice of putting up election posters during general and by-elections be done away with. According to his estimate, political parties spend about RM110 million just on election posters each general election. So, by stopping this practice, much money can be saved.

Now, a few things must be noted here. If RM110 million is spent on election posters, this would mean that nearly the entire amount has been spent by the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), because what the opposition spends hardly touches RM2 million or so. So, almost 99% of the RM110 million comes from BN.

Secondly, a candidate cannot spend more than RM200,000 on his or her election campaign if he or she is contesting a parliamentary seat and RM100,000 for a state seat. So, how much can each political party spend then? Let us look at the last general election in 2004.

There are 219 parliamentary seats. At RM200,000 per seat, this comes to RM43,800,000. Then there are 505 state seats (minus Sarawak which has a separate state election). At RM100,000 per seat, this comes to RM50,500,000. The grand total for both parliamentary and state seats would therefore be RM94,300,000. That is how much BN can spend according to the law, RM94,300,000, and not a sen more than that. If they do, then they run foul of the law and their candidates can all be disqualified plus fined RM5,000 per person.

That is only the calculation for posters. What about mineral water with the BN logo, T-shirts, cell phones, banners, billboards, newspaper adverts, TV slots, and much, much more? Then there are the food parcels, petrol money, ang pows for both voters and election workers, etc.

It is said that BN, as a party, spends about RM1.5 billion for the general election. And this does not include the amount personally spent by the candidates, which is said to be anything between RM1 billion to RM1.5 billion in total. Each candidate has to set aside at least RM500,000 to RM3 million depending on where he or she is contesting, the more urban the seat and the larger the constituency, the higher the expenditure.

All told, BN cannot win the election unless the party and the candidates combined spend a total of RM2.5 billion to RM3 billion. That is the cost to win the general election and this is no secret.

Take Sabah as one example. It has only 25 parliamentary seats. But the bill for Sabah BN is about RM200 million. And, again, this does not include what the candidates spend individually. According to the EC, the recent Pangkalan Pasir by-election cost BN about RM3.5 million when it should have been only RM100,000. I personally know BN candidates who spend anything from RM1 million to RM3 million in the election, far more than the RM100,000 or RM200,000 allowed under the law.

What begs answers now is: would this not make all the BN candidates disqualified? How come they are still in office? They should not only be removed but fined RM5,000 on top of that.

Thirdly, with the billions BN spends to win the election, how can the opposition compete when even RM1 million is a king’s ransom to the cash-strapped opposition parties? Maybe PAS can afford to spend a bit of money, but even then it cannot afford more than RM10 million. Even if we include what the candidates spend personally, it would still be only about RM15 million or so.

In short, with what BN has at its disposal in terms of machinery, infrastructure and finance (most which is government-owned, may I add — meaning it belongs to the nation and not the party) the opposition has a snowball’s chance in hell of ousting the ruling party and forming the next government. That is the reality of the situation. And when money talks and bullshit walks, rest assured BN will be in power for a long, long time.

Okay, let us move on. Let us assume that BN follows the law and spends only what it is allowed, let us assume that BN does not abuse government facilities and infrastructure and use them as its personal election machinery, let us assume BN plays fair and the EC does not rig the election, (and therefore let us also assume pigs can fly), would this give the opposition parties a level playing field?

Far from it! It does not matter one bit. PAS would like to form the state government in the few ‘Muslim’ states like Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah and Perlis. DAP would like to become a strong opposition, from the current weak and pathetic opposition that it currently is. And keADILan would like to form the next federal government though it can win only one parliamentary seat by the skin of its nose. What happens when one wants to eat Tom Yam, another prefers Dim Sum, and yet another has a passion for Nan and Tandoori? Well, you compromise and all end up eating fish-n-chips instead. Any wonder why no one is really enjoying their meal?

From the word go, the opposition is playing with three players (PAS, DAP and keADILan) against the opposing team of 14 (BN component parties). Then, the referee (EC) keeps moving the goalpost halfway through the game and actually helps shoot some goals as well. Then the legs of the three opposition players are tied up so that they cannot run but can only hop. Get the idea? How to win the game? Oh, and the opposition team is not told what the rules of the game are and they keep changing the rules every few minutes in favour of the other side. Suddenly, touching the ball is allowed, and then not allowed again when the opposition also touches the ball.

Malaysia does not practice free and fair elections. It is not free because you have to pay handsomely to win it, and it is not fair because the odds are stacked against the opposition. Why bother to contest then? Until and unless they change the rules (or rather enforce them, because there are already rules, only that they are being violated) the opposition might as well not bother to participate in the election.

The EC is supposed to be the referee of the game. It is supposed to ensure that the game is played fairly and squarely. In reality, the EC is just another of the players who actually shoots the most number of goals and each time disqualifies the goals that the opposition scores.

Take one needling issue, postal votes. We have time and time again been told that the postal votes are rigged. (In Pengakalan Pasir, 215 postal votes were recorded when there are only 195 registered postal voters). When asked to discontinue the practice of postal votes, the EC says that anything can be discussed except the issue of postal votes. The practice of postal votes would never be discontinued and it is a closed subject, not open for discussion. To be fair to the EC, they are actually quite honest about the whole thing. The postal votes would be the only thing that can ensure certain key personalities in the government can win or retain their seats, says the EC. Ever wonder why the military camps are all located in constituencies of the top leaders (PM and DPM included) — or these leaders are given seats to contest where there are military camps?

Camp commandants have admitted that the armed forces personnel are forced to vote openly in front of their bosses to ensure that they vote for the ruling party. One camp commandant admitted that the postal votes are all marked by two or three officers and the soldiers are not even allowed to vote. Many horror stories have been related by those involved in corrupting the system. One camp commandant related how he was called up because one vote went to the opposition and they knew it was he who had voted for the opposition. When he asked how they know it was him, the reply he got is because everyone votes in front of the camp commandant, except for the camp commandant himself, so it must have been him.

Have no doubts about it, the EC is not the trustee of the election. They are not there to ensure that the elections are free and fair. They are there to ensure that Malay political power will not be eroded. And, as Malays, it is the duty of the EC officers to do this. To not do so would make the EC officers traitors to their race.

Are the EC officers cheats and scoundrels? No, they are nationalists and patriots. They fight for their race. They ensure Ketuanan Melayu would never be compromised. They guarantee that the Malays would always hold political power and would not become second-class citizens in their own country.

The opposition is a David fighting against the invincible Goliath. But unlike how David defeated Goliath, the opposition is aiming their slingshots at each other instead. Three players against 14 is bad enough (or 15 if you include the EC as another player). But when the three refuse to play as a team and kick the ball into their own goal, we might as well all go home and forget about the whole thing.

It will take a miracle to kick BN out of office, if you believe in miracles.