Saturday, February 23, 2008

Malaysian General Elections - Nomination Day

With nomination day just around the corner, I felt like saying something about my thoughts on the utterly non-democratic nature of our candidate nominations. I shall begin by quoting our Election's Commission Chairman:

"In an election you have to produce what is called an informed choice. That's the principle."
Now, let's see how we have failed utterly in this respect. Let us start with the picture at the top.

At the national level, the National Front (BN) candidates are all going to face a one-to-one run off against the opposition candidates. I cannot imagine the amount of back-room dealings that had to have occurred in order for this to happen. This reduces the choice that the voters have. Try to imagine a similar situation, where a number of companies decided to split the market by offering only one-to-one choices of their wares. The key thing is to reduce competition by coming to an agreement on only selling the products of two companies in a market. In the real world, this would be an illegal conspiracy. Companies behaving like this would have heavy fines levied on them or worse. But for some reason, this is perfectly acceptable in politics.

Both DAP and PAS handed over a few constituencies over to PKR in order to help them grow into a stronger party. But I question the wisdom of this decision. It is important for PKR to grow as it purportedly represents the hope of centrist, middle-class urban voters. However, helping it to grow by giving hand-outs just stinks of the crutch culture that is endemic in our social system. There is no democracy in this decision. If they are to become a bona-fide opposition party, they should have to put in the hard work with the people and wrest the support away from everyone else (including other opposition parties).

At the local level, the voters are all screwed. The decisions to field candidates in an election are decided from the top, and once again, the people have no choice in the matter and are told to tow the party line. In an actual democracy, the lower party members should be the ones who decide whom they would like to field in their constituency. Such a decision should never have to get the approval of anyone in the central committee. Instead, what we have now are elected officials who are beholden to the will of the central power structure and couldn't care less about what their constituents think.
Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people --- Abe Lincoln
So there, I give you, we are not even a paper democracy on nomination day.

No comments: