“Ikut Perintah”: Vote Rigging Is Coming Out Of The Woodwork Now

By Mariam Mokhtar

Over the past weeks, Malaysians have been horrified to learn that the Election Commission has been negligent and allowed vote-rigging and electoral manipulation on a wide scale.

The EC would roll out the usual, tired excuses – that checking processes cannot be done, that the EC lacks resources, or that the EC does not have the power.

In a civilised part of the world, any EC head or its deputy, who was responsible for tarnishing its non-partisan image, and who compromised its impartiality and neutrality, would have been sacked for his incompetence. In Malaysia, it is business as usual.

To ensure a clean election is far from the EC’s prerogative. To enable Umno to rule in perpetuity seems to be its only objective.

The EC is as useful as an umbrella in a raging typhoon. It continues to disregard all the exposés that ordinary citizens, opposition members, activists and news portals have managed to uncover.

The latest to wade into this election mêlée is the head of the Armed Forces, General Zulkifeli Mohd Zin. He issued a written statement at yesterday’s press conference denying vote manipulation in the Armed Forces.

He also denounced the four members of the rank-and-file who admitted that they had been involved in electoral fraud and slammed them for their betrayal and disloyalty.

Earlier this August, another ex-soldier also claimed that he was forced to manipulate postal votes.

Zulkifeli said, “The actions can be interpreted as treachery and it should stop immediately. The Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM) is the nation’s wall of defence that should be supported by all levels of the people, regardless of ethnicity, religion and political position.

“It is hoped that the ATM is not made a scapegoat by those seeking to advance their own interests. The people should show their support and appreciation for the contributions of the ATM.”

According to Zulkifeli, the Armed Forces respects the freedom of its troops to cast their votes, under the Elections Act 1958 and section 16 of the Election Regulations (Postal Votes) 2003.

He stressed, “The voting process carried out by the Armed Forces is clean, transparent and professional without any interference by all levels of the Armed Forces’ leadership,” and took a swipe at the opposition for discrediting the Armed Forces.

It is a well-known fact that the armed forces have been used to shore up support for the BN in previous elections. The only difference in the 21st century is that we now have some brave individuals who are prepared to admit their actions.

Oftentimes, we do many unpleasant things because we “ikut perintah” and to a lesser extent we “jaga periuk nasi“.

Many of our ex-service personnel especially the top brass become arms dealers when they retire. Furthermore, the book ‘Questioning Arms Spending in Malaysia” by Kua Kia Soong, alleges that when arms are procured, contracts are given to companies linked to political leaders. Officers approve projects of relatives or friends of the political leaders.

Zulkifeli cannot be a good leader if he immediately points fingers at the Opposition and calls the men who exposed the wrong-doings in the armed forces as traitors. He could have gained more respect if he said that he would look into the allegations and order a full-scale investigation.

To brand the five men as disloyal is an insult. They have exposed the scandal and corruption in the armed forces. It is Zulkifeli who should consider his position and responsibilities.

If Zulkifeli does not order an investigation of the election fraud within the armed forces; he is the traitor and he should be cashiered.

The traitors are also those who let in foreigners through the back-door with citizenship and voting rights.

In 2004, Najib would have lost the Pekan constituency but for postal votes.

Another classic case of postal voting being used to manipulate the election outcome was in the Bagan Pinang by-election on Oct 11, 2009. It is alleged that the garrison commander of Port Dickson earned his second star because of this. It was a favour returned for his tacit support in ensuring 5,000 extra votes for Umno’s Isa Samad, a man who had been charged and punished for money-politics.

Voting in the army involves personnel crossing ballot papers in a hall and then depositing them in mail bags placed in front of the hall. The bags are then sealed and taken away by EC officers. Counting is done centrally at the approved centre after voting day.

Whether the mailing bags surrendered are the right bags is anybody’s guess. Anything can happen when the bags are in transit or are stored at the EC office.

Despite claims and efforts by commanders to prevent canvassing in army camps, there are occasions when members of the ruling party have managed to “talk to the boys on a personal basis”.

One army commander related how in the 1995 GE, he was told to ‘look the other way’ when BN politicians solicited for votes in his camp. By right, no campaigning is allowed in army camps, because as Zulkifeli pointed out, the armed forces are supposed to be apolitical.

However, which serving army officer is prepared to ignore the directive from Mindef?

Section 87 of Army Act 1972 stipulates that an officer or a soldier can be subjected to military punishment if he is charged for a conduct/act unbecoming of good military discipline/order.

Section 88 says that punishment can be meted on soldiers/officers for an act/behaviour deemed offensive by a superior officer.

These two sections will get anyone whom a superior dislikes into trouble.

Zulkifeli is disingenuous to claim that the “voting process carried out by the Armed Forces is clean, transparent and professional without any interference”. Naturally he cannot condone the electoral cheating because of “Ikut perintah”.

But to denounce the four ex-soldiers is outrageous. Zulkifeli is harbouring traitors in disguise. It is he who should question his own allegiance to King and country.