By Prof Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi
The Melaka election has made me very happy.
Not only are BN and PN fighting against each other, the rakyat have also been given a golden opportunity to show who the real boss is.
Before this, it was disheartening to see who jumped when and where but now the rakyat can dump anyone they choose to do so.
But I would be much happier if the Election Commission comes out with the best SOPs on how to conduct an election in a pandemic.
The EC should not just give a blank check to the Ministry of Health to say such stupid thing like ‘no campaigning allowed’.
Just who the hell is the Ministry of Health? It is not in charge of elections. The Election Commission is the one which has the priority.
The EC can take some advice and consideration of what the Minister of Health wishes to say, but they don’t have to follow it literally.
The EC can be more creative and even more just if it exerts its real power and will.
We hope that the perception the rakyat have of the EC being the tool of incumbent administration is not true in its entirety.
In Melaka, the EC can disprove these perceptions by instituting five important directives as follows:
The first directive is that all RTM and government-owned media must be made available to all contesting parties and independent candidates.
All the media owned by the government must be made to air election campaigns by all parties in an equitable manner. No one party deserves any more air time than another party or individual.
RTM is owned by the people, not PN or BN or any other N.
This would be a good start for the rakyat to hope for a better managed General Election purportedly to be held early next year.
The second directive concerns direct face-to-face campaigning.
I found it unfair for the PH to be fined when they were up on a lorry and the people were in their houses listening. Kenapa tak boleh
Gatherings must adhere to the prevalent SOPs that we have been living with for almost two years. Now we can all go to restaurants and movie theaters with the basic SOPs of social distancing and mask wearing. Cukuplah!
No hand shaking or passing envelopes with money should be allowed. Any gifts of bags of rice and grocery should be handled ‘hands-free’, meaning the voters must get these ‘presents’ or ‘charity’ themselves.
We have had thousands of people being vaccinated in air-conditioned halls and stadiums but why can’t ceramah campaigns be done in this manner?
Unlike six months ago, almost everyone now has been vaccinated and every state is in phase three or four.
The third directive is that polling should be extended to 9pm and people should be assigned specific time slots for them to come. This is to avoid overcrowding at polling centers. Adequate seating and waiting must also be safe and comfortable.
The fourth directive is that any volunteer ferrying voters from their homes to the polling centers for political parties or independents must show proof of Covid swab tests. This is to avoid disease spread by the drivers and party workers.
Finally, door-to-door or pasar malam visits must be made without any hand contact at all, and proper police or Rela personnel must be present at all ceramah and walkabout events to monitor every single candidate.
The Melaka election is important not only for all political parties testing their strength and popularity before GE15, but is also an opportunity to run a live test case study on proper voting during the pandemic.
Voting is the single most important power of the rakyat to choose the candidates that are most capable, that have integrity and compassion for all Malaysians, not just for his or her own ethnic groups.
Delaying the SOPs for campaigning and polling would put our democratic system in jeopardy.
Will the EC rise to this occasion of excellence, responsibility and justice? Or will it be an incompetently run entity or a flagrant tool to one political party?
(Professor Dr. Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi is Professor at a local university.)