Bulan enam?

A few days ago, a couple of friends and I decided to follow Lembah Pantai parliamentarian Nurul Izzah into the heart of Felda land in Pahang to listen to and record her ceramah. Especially after what almost happened during her last visit there, it was no wonder that there were so many people who accompanied her on this trip.

While I was there, I overheard one old pakcik say to his friend, “Bulan enam ya? Dengar, bulan enam.”

There can hardly be any doubt about it – he was referring to the widely spread rumours that general elections will be held in June this year. It seems that this is the one thing that most politically-aware people are discussing these days. And the clues are spread out in the open. Just click into any news portal, or turn the pages of your newspapers. Most politicians have tailored their statements according to pre-election mode already.

The Bersih coalition must also be concerned with all this news. If it becomes increasingly clear that elections will be held mid-year this year, and not early next year, it also becomes less-likely that the changes that Bersih had wanted to get implemented for the 13th General Election will happen. And this is clearly not what they bargained for.

There has been some good news, though. In mid-February, the Elections Commission gazetted the use of indelible ink in the next general election, to prevent repeat voters. Recently, the EC also announced that they will be using two shades of indelible ink to prevent advanced voters from voting on the same day, and also to prevent people from “copying” the ink. While not particularly ingenious, it still shows that the people involved are really thinking this through.

Another serious issue that Bersih had wanted resolved was with overseas voters, who previously did not have channels to vote, unless they flew back into the country. The EC has also made a statement saying that it is “possible” but only through postal voting. They also said that the “lack of infrastructure” makes it difficult to implement, and that postal voting for overseas Malaysians might not be possible if the GE is held in the near future.

While not resolved as yet, let’s hope that that the persons involved will continue to iron things out as soon as possible.

Another aspect of voting that has also attracted much attention is the electoral roll. During the past week or so, allegations have been made about the EC and the manipulation of the electoral roll. There are  accusations of illegal border revisions, causing some 30,000 voters to be moved to other constituencies. Apparently Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, Menteri Besar of Selangor, is now no longer a voter in Selangor, but in Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur.

Then there are allegations that names have been added and deleted from the electoral roll without being gazetted. There have been reports of “sudden influxes” of voters into certain constituencies. There have been suspicions of phantom voters and “dubious voters”. There are also voters being newly registered as military and police personnel, which allows them to be postal/advance voters, despite their being too old to join the organisations now.

It feels like one step forward, two steps back. But if we look at it from another vantage point, it’s a good thing that these discrepancies are being aired and finally coming out into the open. It holds the authorities accountable that there are vigilant parties around.

So, will the elections really be held in June? During the short time I spent with Nurul Izzah and her aides during the Felda trip, they were asking me the same question. It’s on everyone’s mind. It seems likely, “June’s a good time.” So say it is, and say the troubling issues are not settled by then, I believe that Bersih 3.0 might just come to reality.



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