Posted on April 25, 2010


As I write this at 8.00am on Sunday 25 April 2010, polling has just begun and of course the outcome of the by-election in Hulu Selangor is not yet known. Nevertheless, what is already known is the way in which the campaign had been conducted.

A doctored picture of the opposition candidate holding a liquor bottle to his lip had been a centre piece of the ruling party’s campaign. (While the candidate in question had admitted to his past practice, the doctored picture was calculated to show his current physical form and to give the impression that he was downing an entire bottle of hard liquor, etc.) Millions of ringgit of tax-payers money had been given/promised to prospective voters in the constuency. (The actual amounts had reportedly been in the region of at least RM51 million.) So much so that some quarters have described this particular election as a “buy-election”. Even more grievous (flagrant, outrageous, atrocious) was the fact that a large block of voters in the constituency had had their polling stations relocated without being informed (until this matter was publicly revealed by the PR elections team). Some 14,000 voters are affected. The large police presence in Hulu Sengor had been another factor that must be examined to see if the actions of police personnel had been fair to both sides of the contest.

Much more can be said about what went on in the Hulu Selangor by-election campaigns. I leave people much more knowledgeable and informed than I am to reveal the full story. It is important that they do so to prevent abuse in future elections.

My purpose in writing this post is to say loud and clear that winning is only glorious if you play by the rules. An Olympic medal has no value whatsoever if it was won by dubious and crooked means. It would be what we say is a hollow victory.

My old-school upbringing has taught me like many Malaysians that you win or lose properly. There is a certain decorum to be observed when you enter the arena of competition, be it the arena of sports, commerce, or politics. The same rule must be applied to participating teams in the playing field, market-place, voting booth or the court of justice.

Sports is such good fun and entertainment for all in the entire globe only if the rules of each respective game are observed. An off-side goal is no goal. Discarding the rules is “just not cricket”.

If you can’t win within the rules of the competition, then you don’t win at all regardless of the results. This applies to both teams, both sides of the parliamentary divide.

I call for a post-mortem of the way/s the Hulu Selangor by-election had been conducted/waged. Let competent and fair-minded Malaysians conduct this post-mortem and let us weigh the performance of both campaigns- their best and worse practises. Based on the results of this findings, some clear and concrete code of ethics should be laid down for the conduct of fair elections.

If as a nation we cannot assure fair elections, how can any side claim that our election results truly reflect the wishes of the voters and demonstrate the will of the people?

Posted in: Perspective