1. With the Bagan Pinang by-election just around the corner there have been concerns voiced by Pakatan Rakyat and the Rakyat as to whether there will be manipulations by Barisan with regards to the Army Postal votes . Nearly 5000 postal votes from the Army will make a difference to the results of the by-elections and being a former serviceman, I know that their concern is not without merit. Allow me to share my experience of going through 3 elections while I was serving in the Army.
2. Soldier’s votes are very important to Barisan as we all know that their numbers are significant when they are located in high concentration areas. I am not sure how many remembered that Najib won narrowly in Pekan during the General Election that took place after Anwar was sacked from UMNO. In that year, Najib the number of postal votes that came from the Army and Air Force base in Batu 9 and Batu 10 Kuantan made all the difference to him winning.
3. During the same GE, Anuar Musa lost the Ketereh seat because the airman at the Gong Kedak, which is located at the border of Kelantan and Terengganu, chose to abstain from voting. The camp is unique as it is located right at the border of Kelantan and Terengganu. They live in Terengganu and they go to work by crossing the road which brings them into Kelantan. They votes goes into Anuar Musa area in Kelantan. I remember when his wife complained to me that the soldiers were ungrateful for not voting BN.
4. In Bagan Pinang, the impact is significant as the Basic Army Training center is located there. At any one time there are easily a few thousand recruits and soldiers in the Camp. I am not quite sure where the electoral boundaries are but there are many other Army training centers along the famous PD beach road. Certainly there will be concerns by Pakatan Rakyat on the impact of these votes. Unfortunately their concern appears to be targeted at different matters.
5. PR is concern that the election will be rigged. They are concern about multiple votes from one person and they are also concern of Pakatan Rakyat’s accessibility accessible to the voters during campaigning. This would be their greatest mistake. I would say they should not be concern about the election being rigged or they not being able to campaign. They should be concern with soldiers being ordered to vote BN as well as the possibility that other people will be tasked with crossing the voting papers on behalf of the recruit and soldiers.
6. During the GE when Anwar was sacked, my voting rights were denied as the voting paper was not in TUDM Subang but was in Mindef. When I went to the voting center, I was told by the adjutant that my name is not in the list under Subang but was located in Mindef. I was given a number to call.
7. I remember calling them vigorously from morning and finally getting through at about 400pm. The Corporal that answered my call and confirmed that my voting papers were in Mindef. He said it would be difficult for me to go to Mindef and would probably not make it on time. He told me he could help me to cross the papers. I only need to tell him whom to vote. I told him not to do anything but my gut feeling is that someone had vote BN on my behalf.
8. In Bagan Pinang, PR biggest concern should not be about campaigning among the soldiers. They should be concern about how soldiers and recruits would be forewarned and will be ordered to vote certain individuals or certain symbols. Being recruits whose young brain and mind has been thrashed, they will follow orders. They would prefer to follow orders just to get a weekend pass or to avoid being forced to march with 40kg packs on their back.
9. I am not sure how PR wants to ensure that the recruits and soldier can vote without fear or favor. The soldiers will go and cast their papers under MAFREL and under Pakatan Rakyats agent’s nose but they will never be able to ensure that the soldiers are casting their votes on their own free will. If they expect any of the soldiers or recruits to change their mind based on campaign promises, I can say for sure that they are expecting a big surprise. The only way they can win is they know exactly how many soldiers are there in the camp and they need to find matching numbers among the civilians population to neutralize this numbers and then work triple hard to get the rest of the voters to vote for them. Other than that they need some serious divine intervention.