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Evidence of vote buying by BN in KT! - malaysiakini

Malaysiakini's report:

Thanks to the pack of fearless Pakatan Rakyat bloggers led by RPK, I have been able to follow quite closely the on-going electoral battle at Kuala Terengganu. RPK had predicted a victory of five thousand votes for PAS even before the KT by-election began. He has a better than even chance of being proven right on Saturday night, when all the votes will be counted in the evening.


Once again, when the opposition parties can form a workable coalition, the Chinese voters can become king makers at both national and local levels. Though they make up only 11% or over 8000 votes in KT, they will decide the outcome of this by-election with the Malay votes more or less evenly split between Umno and PAS.

I had been to KT only once, and found the Chinese there just like the Chinese in small towns elsewhere. Their tranquil sedate daily life revolves round their work and business, their Chinese schools, their guilds and associations, and their temple.

kuala terengganu by election 150109 ocean restaurant 02Unlike their counterparts in the big cities, the Terengganu Chinese people tend to be much friendlier to strangers and better integrated into the local Malay communities.

Sixty-five percent of the KT Chinese voters had supported the BN candidate during the last general election, and one should not be surprised. Chinese in small towns throughout Malaysia tend not to be too much bothered by issues of national concern or reformasi. Generally, they are far more interested in local issues and the personality of the candidates.

Pragmatic and realistic

The leaders of local Chinese guilds and associations in any small Chinese towns exert considerable influence as community leaders. Those in KT should not be any different. After all, they probably sit on the board of management of local Chinese schools and their places of worship, as well as acting as spokesmen representing the community when meeting government officials at all levels.

Traditionally, these local community leaders support the Barisan Nasional, especially the MCA. Some also serve as local MCA officials. Being pragmatic and realistic, they know where the goodies come from. If the Pakatan Rakyat takes power in the country tomorrow, expect these same Chinese community leaders throughout Malaysia to lean towards the new rulers!

Therefore, it should not surprise long-time observer of Chinese politics that BN won the Chinese votes in KT hands down in the 2008 general election. Everybody in the opposition coalition was busy fighting his own battle all over the country then.

Before 2008, the results of by-elections were predictable. The BN tended to win all of them, the odd exception being the Lunas by-election, which was won by PKR.

kuala terengganu by election pr sms message urging people to vote 150109Since 2008 though, the Pakatan coalition has changed all that. They have five states in their political pocket, and are now raring for power at the centre. The Permatang Pauh by-election was a relatively easy victory. And now, they are poised to win in KT as well.

What makes the difference now is that when DAP, PKR, and PAS pooled their political capital together, the whole is larger than the sum of its part. Strange bed-fellows they may be. But only a coalition of these vastly different political forces can resist and negate the BN's traditional assault of dividing and ruling the people through the politics of race.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the KT by-election.

All of a sudden, the active participation of the DAP in the PAS campaign since nomination day has energised the PAS offensive. The arrival of DAP superstars must have had a huge impact on the Chinese voters in KT beyond measure.

Good Chinese leaders

I am sure the DAP presence in KT before the 2008 general election could have been nothing except minimal. For the local Chinese voters in KT in the past, the DAP leading lights were just names in the newspapers. Suddenly, in recent weeks, they were treated to the glamour and charisma of these Chinese heroes in person and in huge doses.

This DAP army are very seasoned campaigners who know the general aspirations of the Malaysian Chinese well. Above all, they can communicate very well with any Chinese community. Their power of persuasion is best illustrated in their ceramah speeches. They can hold a packed hall of many thousands spell-bound for hours on end, earning enthusiastic applauses and cheering with wild elation.

Of course there are very good Chinese leaders in PKR, who can hold their ground among Chinese electorates. But they cannot say the sort of things as the DAP leaders can, because the Chinese who join PKR are likely to be more multiracial in outlook.

The MCA knows that DAP is a brand name in Chinese politics. That is probably why from the start of the KT by-election the MCA has tried to frighten Chinese voters in KT with the threat of hudud laws, over which DAP and PAS have just had a spat of public disagreement before the by-election. In many past general and by-elections, the hudud spectre had frightened many Chinese voters into supporting the BN, no matter how dissatisfied they were with the MCA.

kuala terengganu by election 150109 ocean restaurant 01This time though, the Pakatan Rakyat coalition has shown considerable political maturity in handling their differences within a political alliance.

On the night of the 11th, DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng arrived at the over-flowing restaurant in the heart of KT, to announce that it is an agreement among the member parties of Pakatan Rakyat anywhere that a policy must receive the anonymous agreement of all three partners for it to be implemented. That should put an end to the use of hudud as a non-issue.

The closure of the DAP campaign centre through very suspicious means may yet backfire. The KT Chinese may be simple folks, but they are not stupid. They will just keep quiet and vote in their verdict on Jan 17.

So far, the BN machinery has sprung no surprises. They have done their expected chores of showering the Chinese voters with all kinds of election lagarsse, and tens of millions of government allocation. As the campaign grind to the crunch in these last few days, arrangements are probably in place for vote buying.

A vote for RM400

I read an account on the Internet by a Chinese youth in KT who is too young to vote. He has an uncle who is a longstanding member of the local MCA. Having been saturated with political education by DAP ceramah speakers, the uncle went to BN meetings and asked questions raised in the campaign. He was hushed down immediately.

So now the uncle has decided to vote for PAS, though he was offered RM400 by the BN for his vote. The wise nephew advised him to take the money and vote for PAS. The older man told him that he must photograph his vote inside the polling booth on his mobile phone, and send the picture of his actual vote to the paymaster, or else he would not be paid. If he does not have an expensive mobile phone, one would be provided for him. If he is found to have voted for PAS, all kinds of punishment will descend upon him after the by-election.

kt by election 070109 photo with votersHaving been at the receiving end of many campaigns of money politics, I find this story believable. This device of using the mobile phone to monitor voter's actual vote violates the secrecy of the vote, and is obviously against the election laws. But in a small town where everybody knows everybody, the uncle is unlikely to lodge a police report over it.

The obvious thing for the Election Commission to do is to ban all voters from bringing their mobile phones into the polling centre. The opposition election agents must also object vehemently to the use of the mobile phone inside the voting booth.

This and other tricks of bribery and intimidation from the BN tend to surface in the last days of any by-election anywhere in Malaysia. Sometimes, they work, and sometimes they fail.

One thing I am sure of is that PAS will get more votes from the Chinese community in KT than in 2008. If the Malay votes are still split, then there is a strong possibility of a PAS win on Saturday.

As for me, win or lose for the Pakatan coalition, the KT buy-election is just another battle in a long war for justice and democracy in Malaysia. The next critical battle field will be my home state of Sarawak. I wonder when RPK and his pack of bloggers will go there in the near future, and whether they will be declared persona non grata -