Sorry, You Don’t Convince Me Ambiga

Questioning BERSIH.

By now, you must have read about how BERSIH and its coalition partners in the opposition plans to do street demonstration in Kuala Lumpur with more than 100,000 “yellowish” people this coming saturday. They triumphantly claim to have a cause and come 9th July, the King must be told about it.

When asked to justify the illegal street demo, the supporters of the demonstration will immediately go into a predictable knee-jerk reaction. You will get instant lectures on the virtue of unbridled democratic rights and occasional snide look of you being ignorant of the truth.

They will tell you how the good-for-nothing SPR conspiring with the government to include dead people in the electoral roll. They get agitated when told that SPR is not to be blamed. How many of us take the trouble to report to SPR directly when our relative died? How is it that we waste no time to inform the bank, insurance company, police, EPF and even loan sharks but not SPR? The reality is we tend to put off reporting to SPR because it is a 5 year thing. We hear people say, “What’s the rush? The dead ain’t gonna vote anyway”. Little do people know that SPR is not allowed under the law to remove the names of dead people without official proof!

I met JPN officers yesterday. They confessed that the number of people, especially in the rural areas, who fail to report death in their family is a lot. With this kind of lackadaiscal attitude, I wonder why BERSIH blames SPR instead of the lazy and indifferent Malaysians.

The same thing with allegation of multiple persons registered under a single address. I suspect one of the reasons is that people use rented house addresses when they register to vote. Unfortunately, when they move out from their rented addresses, they fail to notify SPR. Subsequent tenants then use the same house address to register as voters. I remember when I moved into a rented condo in Kuala Lumpur in 1993. I kept receiving the previous tenant’s letters including bank statements and government official letters until the day I moved out 3 years later just because he did not change his address with the relevant parties!

In the case of alleged phantom voters registered in the house of  YB Azmin Ali’s mother, I find it rather amusing that of all the millions of houses in the country, SPR had to  pick the house belonging to the mother of the of loudest and most vocal  opposition leaders to plant phantom voters. Very funny indeed.

Another BERSIH’s contentious issue is the postal votes. Firstly, the name postal vote is somewhat a misnomer. There is no such thing as postal vote for the police, armed forces and the civil servants who work as election officers during the poll. They do not mail out their votes through the postal system. All of them vote in advance, watched over closely by representatives from all contesting parties. Postal voters vote in private booths just like all of us normal voters. The popular belief, spun by the opposition, that their superiors will be looking over their shoulders to check who they vote for is a fallacy.  The representatives of the candidates will be there to ensure that does not happen. Unless of course, they fall asleep on the job!

Some leaders of BERSIH also want counting of the postal votes on the same day citing possiblities of tempering if counted later. It is not a practical idea because the result will influence the voting pattern during normal polling day. In any case, there have been instances where the opposition got more postal votes compared to BN. Case in point, Teluk Kemang by election in 2000. If BERSIH worries about the integrity of the postal bags while in the authority’s custody, then they should request opposition representatives presence in the lock up where the bags are kept. I guess staring at the bags for 3 days non-stop is a small price to pay to ensure the sanctity of the heavily guarded, locked and sealed  postal votes bags.

It is true that most of the time postal votes tend to be in favour of the BN. But this is not surprising at all and can be easily explained. Why would they vote for a party that has been constantly demonising, humiliating, cursing and crticising them? They are also humans with feelings and dignity.

Bersih also wants armed forces personnel and police officers, who are not directly involved in the election, to vote through the normal process like civilians do. They say it is unneccesary for them to vote in advance. I disagree.

One of the most critical days for the nation, where it is at its most vulnerable to chaos and subversive elements, is on polling day where no effective civilian authority is in place. On polling day , the military and police forces are at their highest alert for any untoward incidence which could compromise the nation’s security.

So for BERSIH to suggest that the military and police personnel abandon their posts – whether it is in the deep jungle of the interior, far flung islands, air and naval bases, remote border control check points and strategic command centres, is nothing short of being irresponsible! The readiness of our forces to ensure nation’s security cannot be compromised at all.

Some may say that I am over exaggerating the potential security threat to the nation during polling day. Maybe. But if it does happen, I rather have our men in uniform to quickly scramble the Sukhois, the MiGs, the F18s and sail out the Frigates, Corvettes and the Subs to intercept enemies. It can only be done if they are at their bases not when they spend time queing in line to vote in Grik, Batang Berjuntai, Lubok Antu or Long Pasia!

Bersih also demand the postal votes to be extended to Malaysians who live away (domestically) from their voting constituency. For example a Sabahan who lives and works in Kuala Lumpur but registered as voter in Kota Belud, Sabah.

In my opinion, a person registered as a voter in Kota Belud but chooses to live and work in Kuala Lumpur has no business to determine who should be the local Wakil Rakyat for the people of Kota Belud! He should be voting for a Wakil Rakyat in Kuala Lumpur who is in a better postion to address issues affecting his life there! It will not be fair to the local residents of Kota Belud if an “outsider” living in Kuala Lumpur is trying to force his choice of candidate to them when it is them who have to deal with the Wakil Rakyat on a daily basis.

By the way, isn’t asking more people to be under postal vote system somehow contradicts BERSIH’s earlier allegation that postal vote system is riddled with procedural problems which lead to suspicion of fraud?

On the use of indelible ink, SPR has explained in great details about its concern on its usage. My personal concern on use of indelible ink is related to the legalities.

Does SPR have the power, under the current Elections Act 1958, to deny a person whose finger has been inked from voting, but who now claims his finger was inked forcibly? What happens if that person insists to vote by citing his rights under the constitution, finger inked or not? Will we see chaotic scenes at the polling centres?

These are simple questions but with great consequences if not clearly defined. That is why, instead of street demonstation, BERSIH should propose amendments to the Elections Act in Parliament! Even if a million yellows turn up for the street demonstration, the demand cannot be fulfilled without amending the Elections Act to make it more specific and clearer.

The same goes to automatic registration of voters. It is no better than the current all year round open-registration excercise. It also requires the Election Act to be amended to incorporate the provision. Anyway, when a person decides not to register as voter, isn’t he merely exercising his democratic right? Why is BERSIH denying him of his right not to register when BERSIH is coming to town to champion the people’s democratic rights?

I have no problem with BERSIH’s demand that campaign period to be atleast 21 days. But what I find odd is BERSIH failure to see that the opposition is enjoying a 365 days, 24/7, nation-wide-non-stop campaign blitz since 2008.

As for the claim of vote buying during election,  I hope Ambiga realizes that the  guys marching next to her on the 9th of July are quite experts in it. Everyone knows that in the midst of the Hulu Selangor by election in April last year, Anwar Ibrahim promised 100,000 land titles to poor homeowners in the constituency (Source: The Malaysian Insider, 13 April 2010). This was followed quickly by Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s announcement to abolish quit-rents for shop houses in Hulu Selangor (Source: New Straits Times, 20 April 2010) as well as presenting bonuses amounting to RM6116,000 to all village chiefs and Jawatankuasa Keselamatan dan Kemajuan Kampung (JKKK) in Hulu Selangor (Source: SelangorKini Online, 21 April 2010).

And I hope Ambiga will not forget the ultimate mother of all vote buying act: Nik Aziz’s campaign promise of heaven if you vote for PAS!

With all these brouhaha about allegation of election irregularities in Malaysia , I wonder how other countries are doing. Do other countries around the world face issues and allegations of electoral irregulartities? Is the problem unique to Malaysia?

Going through the internet, I found out that in October last year, the Registrar Of Electors in New Zealand removed from its electoral roll 306 names of people who did not reside at the addresses on their enrolment forms. In Auckland, the ROE were investigating 90 voters who had been enrolled as living in two houses in Pembroke St and Puhinui Rd.

In Venezuela, the National Electoral Council was informed of doubtful existence of 39,000 voters whose age were 100 years and above. In Spain, The Electoral Census Bureau received complaints on discrepancies on the so-called ‘padrons’ of 22 towns in Malaga and a further 16 in Granada.

And in the United States of America, complaints were lodged on voters disenfranchisement when Republican Party was allegedly purging African-Americans names from voters’ lists in the 2004 Presidential election in favour of George Bush. And of course who could forget when US Commission on Civil Rights declared that election process in Florida, during the US Presidential Election 2000, was riddled with serious irregularities.

Two interesting points can be deduced from the above stories. Firstly, statistically speaking, just like any massive databases, electoral rolls will not be 100% error free even when Anwar Ibrahim is the Prime Minister. It is not statistically possible. There is always what statisticians refer to as allowable sampling error which in no way affects the integrity of the whole list. Secondly, in instances above, the complainants lodge reports to their respective election authorities and allow investigations to be conducted. They do not resort to massive street demonstrations.

My last point in this article is a question that I would like to pose to the KLites. Are you ready for frequent street demonstrations in the heart of Kuala Lumpur? Are you ready for the inconveniences? I am afraid that will be the norm if BERSIH is allowed to start. You cannot allow BERSIH and deny others from marching down the Bukit Bintang road every weekend for a cause they believe in. You risk being called hypocrites.

Abdul Rahman Dahlan is the Member of Parliament for P169 Kota Belud. He tweets at @mpkotabelud. This post was previously published on his blog.

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Abdul Rahman Dahlan is the Member of Parliament for P169 Kota Belud. He blogs at and tweets at @mpkotabelud.

Posted on 4 July 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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52 Responses to Sorry, You Don’t Convince Me Ambiga

  1. hccheah

    Thank you, Ambiga, you more than convince me.

  2. Kak Long

    Another UMNO goon, trying to justify what BN is doing

  3. Allergic2Umno

    Ho hum… I couldn't even get past this rent-seeker's smug face. Typical UMNO buffoon, albeit a slightly more literate one than Bung Mokhtar Radin.

  4. fairly

    ….What happen next is:" I told you so.." will be the most used words. I wouldn't say that the existing government is the best in the world…but at the same time.. I am not convinced that the opposition is the best either. Politics is the same all over the world. The question is always: Who will benefit most? The masses or the selected few? I as a Malaysian wants the MPs to do a decent job as an elected representatives voted by the people to work for the people and not the other way round. If politicians do their job decently in parliaments and updates their constituency, I am 100% sure the people wil continue to vote for them (provide facts, figures and not hearsay)even if most of the things that they wanted are not fulfilled. Blaming others for your incompetencies and cheating the people wil not benefit anyone except yourself. And the masses will know eventually, and will stop voting you. If you think your job is to do "official openings" and "getting projects", please….please find another job. no 4 …to be continue on the next post.
    4>Give me one example in Asia where a peaceful demonstration doesn't go rowdy

  5. fairly

    3> Everyone's definition of fairness are different. Allowing civil unrest by street demonstration is definately not good for the country. Look at Thailand, Syria, Egypt ……. Once standard have been set, unsatisfied groups will do the same thing. If you think that's good for the country and our children, go ahead. But remember the Malay sayings " terlajak perahu bolih di under….terlajak kata burok padahnya" (..I am not Karam Singh Walia). to be continued next post

  6. fairly

    1> Yes, I want a fair election. Fair by whose definition? The Americans, the Jews, the Indians or the Chinese?
    2> Yes, I want a clean list of voters. Who has a clean list so that I can compare to the list with SPR? Dear MPs, please do some work by checking your lists within your constituency. MPs are not elected so that you can do "official openings", "majlis makan makan", etc. I'll continue no 3 on my next comment as my post is a little long.

  7. Apa Lagi

    The irony is those voters who are suppose to be already dead will appear and vote during polling day. This is rampant in Sabah.

  8. stevenchen

    Any death must be reported to the Police before you can bury them. Is that not connected to the EC via the Registration of Birth and Death…..or are you telling me our cementeries are buried with illegal dead

    • fairly

      How many do not register their birth or a you telling me that our land is full of illegal life.

  9. Adam

    I am convinced to march on just one count alone and it is not even among the list of 8 points.

    How come my MP in Petaling Jaya is representing more than 100,000 of us while the MP in Putrajaya is representing less than 6,000 folks there? Where is the basic principle of a decent democracy of one person one vote? You tell me, Mr. MP.

    • fairly

      Build more houses in Putrajaya or get more people to live there, to match the 100K in PJ. Is that your version of Democracy?

      • Adam

        Dear fairly,

        It is exactly your kind of thinking which will take our beloved country down the slippery slope to anarchy. This is exactly what BN wants you to think to continue controlling the country.

        You lack critical thinking skills to overcome problems which, in this case is not even complex in nature. The basic principle of a democracy is one person one vote. Ok, we accept the fact that it is impossible to achieve exactly that; so 15 to 20% difference should be considered fair. Anything more would mean unfairness in representation. Please read what RPK has to say on this at:…

        In our case, can the EC not divide PJ into a few constituencies? If Putrajaja has too few voters, can it not be combined with other FT areas in KL to make up the numbers? Distance and area of coverage should never be an excuse for unfair representation. If there is a will, there is always a way.

        • fairly

          Oh… that's your version of democracy. "….15 to 20% difference is considered fair". Yes… what we should do is… combine some of the Penang constituencies to Putrajaya or some of the areas where BN has majority. That's critical thinking. Thank you my learned Adam of your lesson on Democracy.

          • Adam

            Oh dear. You do not need to be learned to have a fair sense of justice and fairness. Just as I do not want my vote to be worth only a fraction of yours, I also would not want my vote to be worth many times of yours.

            As for combining state and FT constituencies, it could not be done. Within each state, it may be possible but may not be practical to combine areas separated by great distances. FT is different in the sense that you have KL, Putrajaya and Labuan. Understand? No?

            I do not blame you for not understanding. I blame it on our education system which has deteriorated since our independence.

      • Bloberry

        Lame-st solution ever.

        I used to ask this question to my BTN trainer. I asked him 'Don't you think that the system is unfair. For example, Kelantan has fewer DUN than Pahang due to its size. But every DUN in Kelantan is packed with people compared to Pahang which have many DUN but the capacity in every DUN is much lower than DUN in Kelantan. But the one who will win is the one who get more DUN than the other. So of course it's not fair and it doesn't represent the voice of the people.

        You know what my BTN trainer answered?

        Awak nak pembangkang menang, buatlah macam tu. (something like that, or he said 'Awak nak negara ni hancur, buatlah macam tu)

        I think you and him might be related, judging from the problem-solving skill.

        • fairly

          I think everyone will do the same thing. Don't you think the opposition will do the same thing if they had won? If I were to vote, I won't vote for a party, I would vote for a person who can represent me and making sure my voice is heard and I mean heard in a civilized manner… parliament and not on the street. If I want my voice to be heard on the street, I won't need a representative in Parliament, I can do that on my own. Fair election……and all those trade marks about fairness makes me piuh….

          • Adam

            Maybe, I should give you an example to present your views. Let us say your constituency has 100K voters and your MP represents you in Parliament. Mine has 20K voters. For the same number of your voters, we have 5 MPs to represent us compared to your one MP. You would be lucky if your voice would be heard. So, you want to change the rules to make it fairer? Our 5 MPs would not allow it and vote yours out. What do you want to do? You appeal to EC to no avail. You organise peaceful march, also cannot. You may opt to keep quiet, but we will not.

  10. MaliniB

    I registered as a voter 2 months ago and yet till today by name is not in the voter's list.In fact, I need to wait for 4 months before I can enquire about my status. I'll not be able to exercise my right to vote if elections are called any time now. Why should voter registration take so long in this day and age? That's why I support Bersih – we NEED electoral reform.

  11. odan_odc

    A good article and view for me at least. I voted in Klang but I actually have been living in terengganu for more than 5 years. I should change my constituent.

    My sister have been assisting in the past election process. No complaints from her though on these irregular voting. Well at least in Klang.

  12. Boris the Manskinner

    Now there's a big surpise. Bersih chairman fails to convince a BN MP to support the Bersih rally.

    A classic response from someone who knows they are in the wrong: 'It also happens in other countries!'

    Just because it happens in other countries, does that mean its ok to have irregularities in our country? How do we know whether the people in authority are not gonna abuse this position?

  13. Andrew Yong

    Well argued – however, the term "postal vote" is not a name the media invented – it is actually what is supposed to happen under the Postal Voting Regulations. Postal votes are supposed to go directly to the postal voter and then directly by post back to the returning officer, and not via some intermediary such as the Army or Police chain of command. We have heard plenty of stories of postal ballot papers not actually getting to the serviceman or policeman concerned. Also, the EC itself does not run the advanced polling, which is entirely under the control of the Army and Police chain of command.

    Secondly, if the military and police want to vote by post, shouldn't their ballots be sent to their home constituencies and not the constituency in which their barracks is located? If they want to vote in the constituency where their barracks is located, the EC should just set up a polling station in the barracks on election day or one or two days before, as there is no need for postal votes.

    If the EC wants to replace the postal vote system with advance voting a few days before the election, I would support that as long as polling agents and election observers are allowed to be present as on the normal polling day.

  14. snow

    You expressed your views. I now express mine. Take a look at the current chain of events. How the BN government and the police reacted. Detention without trial, police use of brute force, practising double standards (recent protest in Penang -Ezam released within a day), manipulating the press, injecting fear by repetitive warnings, banning yellow attires, blatant racism, stripping our constitutional rights, etc. The list is endless. Why does the police allow these hooligans to create chaos in Penang and do nothing when they threatened to throw a Chinese reporter over the bridge. Why did the police allow this illegal gathering to proceed for so long. This is hypocrisy shown by the police. These are the reasons why I as a Malaysian want to have a clean election so the tyranny can stop.

    • Nuraini

      i agree with this. actually i also don't think that all the 8 demands are necessarily feasible or desirable or constitutionally possible. and i'm ambivalent of how a demostration is supposed to advance these goals.

      HOWEVER, i take offence at the blatant use of power by the ruling party to commit these crimes and offences (1) slander the group, i.e. spreading, encouraging or tolerating the spread of untrue information about the group's actual demands and motivations (2) making accusations about the group and its leader without feeling the need to furnish evidence, let alone allow the evidence to stand scrutiny (3) encouraging or tolerating racist slurs plus exhortation of sexual violence to the leader of the group with no police action taken against acts that clearly contravene laws against inciting racial unrest and incitement to violence and (4) while persecuting a group that has maintained a peaceful and compromising stance, does nothing against counter-rallies by groups persistently using violent and inciteful language. they are all of them an embarrassment to themselves, their families, their people, their religion, and their king. but they are exactly the sort of people created by our current lack of moral leadership.

  15. nook

    Actually looking deeply at Bersih is full of impurities under the guise of BERSIH. It is quite a manipulative NGO supported by some interested parties.It is more as a tool by others to achieved their desired goals

    • Fabian

      Then it's a good tool. Tools are only good when they fulfill their purpose, when they work. If BERSIH's campaign of awareness helps BN disappear and bring about a PR federal government which will make the changes we want like a CLEAN election commission and repeal oppressive laws, then good. And no, they're not impurities. In any stew, the scum rises to the top. No different with BN.

  16. TNagarajan

    Even in Tunsia, where the President stole the nation's wealth, there were cronies who supported him. The same in Libya, Egypt amd in most Middle East muslim countries.

    Is it a surprise to you that in Muslim Malaysia, some people like you and unmo members people are against free, fair, clean elections and against corruption, nepotism and cronism? Even the fatwa council had decided that BERSIH must be bad.

    There will always be people like you who are blind to facts or beneficairies of corruption who want to maintain the status quo.

    Maybe you would like to tell the people of Tunisa, Libya, Syria, Egypt etc for protesting for better government, against corruption, proper election etc that were illegal protests and should have been locked up under ISA.

  17. sharin

    ambiga for prime minister…tamil nadu

  18. sharin

    bravo bro…ambiga,even the face is like witch…ambiga n konco2 can go to helllll,long live mahathir…..

    • shirin

      you are a sick man!!!!! are you blind owat??? can't you see that the government is trying to hide things by not allowing ambiga & the konco-konco to proceed this rally…….duh!!!!

    • boss

      perhaps you can go to hell..die in hell bro

    • Pal

      better looking than your mother bro. mahatir will be gone soon.

    • Fabian

      So you prefer Mahathir's face? Looks like a prince (or princess?)? Well, whatever floats your boat.

  19. Hantu Gigi Jarang

    Ambiga for the President…of SPCA!

  20. Poor KL man

    Hello rich man, why should we need to convince you all who drive big cars and live in villas when we wage-earners must take bus/LRT to work in small companies earning barely enough to feed our small families in a run-down flat? Even if we explain to you 1,000 times also you wont get it. WE ARE ANGRY & TIRED OF GOVTMENT ABUSES RESULTING MANY OF US POORER BY THE DAY WHILE THE RICH & POWERFUL ARE PARTYING.

  21. KTT

    I read two paragraphs and it is i am too sick to continue as got enough for the day from TV 1 2 3 and the biggest player Utusan….. MP Belud please write more to please your master as they too will be their last term.GOODBYE !


    The author has articulated his view in a decent manner, though he maybe flawed. He is just airing his own personal views. Unfortunately some commenters here who are, I believe PR die hard fans, are quick to call him names to demoralise him. Why not enggage him in a decent debate like KS ONG, so that you will not be compared to the uncivilised Ibrahim Ali of PERKASA.

    • Pal

      You just be a nice boy and keep bending over Doc. The author is a umno lackey who wants to perpetuate a system that kills your kind in jails.

      No point engaging a pig in a debate is there. That's why we have hand wringing people like you around.

      You probably also think mahatir "did some good"…and for the record its UMNO Perkasa like UMNO Youth. Like the author.

      • fairly

        Hei Pal… you sounded a rasist. Stop writing if you can’t put your thoughts rightly.

    • farha

      Thank you Dr. Suresh, you speak my mind.

  23. Rama

    In the year 2000, I was a postal voter, and FYI the vote came to me by post, KABISH! But the problem was, due to the highly efficient postal service working in cohort with the EC, I got it after the elections. Called up to complain – answer- "akan disiasat". Called up the press, who came with reporter & photographer. I thought that I shall have my day. But no siree! These kind of news are bad for public consumption.Do you want a copy of my "evidence"? I have kept it to take it to my grave. Just in case there is elections in heaven (or hell) depending where I shall be.

  24. Ku Ning

    I only read the first 5 paragraphs.

    And it is so hard for SPR to check with Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara to update their voters list?

    If the current law doesn't permit that then why not just enact a new one?!!!

    Barisan Nasional doesn't convince me!

  25. K S Ong

    It is amazing how Abdul Rahman seems to deny the existence of the many flaws in our present electoral system. I can testify that I was displaced from Batu Gajah constituency to Gopeng, complete with a change of address to a kampung without my knowledge, for two general elections until I got it corrected. There were others who found out to their dismay on actual voting day that theirs have been transferred elsewhere, the worst being to Sabah!

    I think he would be one who would go along with the logic: the fact that opposition won 5 states meant there was fair elections. Someone countered that had there been fair elections, opposition would have won the general election.

    There were reports of postal ballots of army personnel being crossed by someone appointed for the purpose! To prevent any such allegations, transparency is vital. What about the real postal votes which were denied to Malaysian citizens working or studying overseas? Past complaints were that only civil servants and those known to be BN supporters were allowed to vote while overseas.

    Najib's 'I help you if you help me' with open offer of development funds after the results were known has become a trademark. How could he miss that? There are many other examples well documented elsewhere.

    The truth shall prevail, in the form of election victory at the coming general election. BN can continue to feel good with lies. At he over-reaction of PM and others over Bersih, many are more concerned with the probability of sore losers in BN who might be tempted to create havoc instead of a peaceful handover of power at the next election.

  26. jubilee

    A childish and myopic view at best.

    Best of luck to you and your future generations after this govt has systematically raped the wealth of our lands.

    • Bendahara

      Another emotional response… C'mon this loyal burok club members are really dissappointing!

  27. Pal

    And sorry you don't convince me you pathetic apologist for a corrupt dictatorship.

    The Umnolicker asks: Are you ready for frequent street demonstrations in the heart of Kuala Lumpur?

    Yes. Hell yes if it gets rid of the likes of you and your loathsome ilk.

    Jails beckoning. So make your lies count.