Friday, March 07, 2008

Would I Vote if I Could? General Election in Malaysia

Interesting facts from ShaolinTiger.

Well as I'm sure you know now is the time for the general elections, voting in the powers to be to rule the country with a firm but fair hand for all.

There's a few major issues I have with the political system here and of course the voting system..I have been surprised as well with the lack of understanding of the voting system, the ruling party and the politics involved in Malaysia by the average Malaysian citizen.

It seems a lot of people just really don't care.

1] Racially segregated parties, why must everything be about race? Why must Chinese stick up for Chinese? Indians stick up for Indians and Malays stick up for Malays? Why can't Malaysians just stick up for Malaysians and everyone do what is best for the country and their fellow countrymen?

Why all the separation, racial bias and bickering about which races are anti whatever other races.

The paper is full of it today - if you vote for the opposite they won't look after the Chinese! Vote MCA it's the only way to safeguard the Chinese people of Malaysia! Blah blah blah..

When will Malaysia have a truly racially agnostic party capable of destroying the NEP in a realistic and non-drastic manner and running the country based on what is best for the rakyat - the word specifies no race correct?

Education and politics should be race agnostic, schools should not be governed by race or religion. There should just be schools, state schools shouldn't push any specific religious agenda, there shouldn't be Chinese schools.

Just schools with options for language, if you want to learn Chinese go ahead, if you want to learn Tamil go ahead regardless of your race it should be a choice.

2] Gerrymandering - this is a huge problem...but then it's based on the British system so I guess you can blame us for that..the incumbent party can move the borders of each constituency to either water down hardcore opposite conclaves with more votes for their party - or they can box in opposition strongholds by expanding borders to ensure they don't lose more votes in surrounding areas.

3] First Past the Post or Plurality voting system - ok this one is taken from the Brits favours the incumbent unless there is an equally strong party (which Britain does have with the Conservatives vs Labour). The system will eventually 'breed' a two party race as it doesn't leave space for the 3rd place...any votes not for the winner or second place are wasted and are basically votes against the second place. (See Duverger's Law)

4] Lack of a Shadow Cabinet - I think this is crucial for check and balance, for the stability of the country. Basically every minister would have a 'shadow' minister from an opposition party. This means if the minister makes any stupid decisions the shadow minister can call him out and stop him wasting money/time etc. Not only UK uses this also France, Australia, Canada, Japan, Ireland, Poland, Scotland and even our neighbour Thailand!

5] Vote buying - this used to happen in UK as well of course a long time ago, it may still still happens in Taiwan, Mexico and even US according to some.

The use of money by candidates during campaigns has been a problem in some areas. The practice of vote buying in internal UMNO elections was openly acknowledged at the UMNO General Assembly in 1994 and specific cases were publicized in 1995 (New Straits Times, 9 August 1995). In the 1996 state elections in Sarawak for the seat of Bukit Begunan, the unsuccessful candidate successfully mounted an election petition in court to challenge the result using evidence of vote buying.

6] The disparity of constituency with 1 to 1 voting - it was supposed to be controlled at no more than 15%.

For the one-person one-vote system to function, the disparity in numbers of voters between constituencies (whether at state or parliamentary level) must be controlled. The original 1957 Federal Constitution provided such guarantees – it said that the disparity shall not exceed fifteen percent (15 %). However these fundamental guarantees have been removed by constitutional amendments. Today, opposition-supporting parliamentary constituencies in Kuala Lumpur have up to 100,000 voters whilst the smallest parliamentary constituencies may have about 20,000 to 25,000 voters. The difference intended originally to be limited to 15 % has now become 400 – 500 %! In 1990 for example, while Penang (which has traditionally been an opposition bastion) had an average of about 50,838 voters per constituency, Perlis had an average of 33,032 voters per constituency. Further gerrymandering occurs in the provision of state seats within parliamentary constituencies.

7] No serious contender - Similar to point one, there's no single, heavyweight, race agnostic opposition party that can give faith to the people they can lead the country. DAP seems to be the stronger, but alone it's still not large or powerful enough to topple BN. The other parties have minor followings. The FPTP system will eventually breed a strong enough second party, who it will be - time will only tell.

8] Campaigns of Negativity - BN is especially guilty of this, but most parties seem to be partaking. I'm not seeing a lot of positive stuff in the news, you should be selling your party on what it CAN do the country...not what the other party CAN'T do or what they've done wrong in the past. Seriously it's rather depressing to see all the fighting, insult hurling and allegations being made (Tony Pua is an economic failure? Teresa Kok is a loose woman?) Please, where are the ethics?

9] Lack of strong leaders - People don't want to vote for BN because they don't have faith in the people at the top - which is fair enough. But amongst the opposition are there enough charismatic people with a strong background to win the votes? Yes Anwar is a superb speaker - but who's going to trust him with his background?

Anyway that's enough rambling.

The point is please educate yourselves and those around you, I'm mostly preaching to the converted here as most blog readers know what's happening in the political world better than the average Joe due to rapid and deep dissemination of information online.

Read about the process here: Elections in Malaysia

So would I vote if I could - of course! In UK I voted for the Green Party!

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