Saturday 19 September 2009

Malaysian Election and Army Votes II

 This is the second article in this matter. Both these article are posted here with the kind permission of its author Dr. Mohamed Rafick Khan whose blog is  rights2write

18/09/2009 by drrafick
1. A regular commentator on my blog sends me an email requesting me to provide more details on how the voting takes place among soldiers during election. I thought I would share it with some readers for the purpose of knowledge but I must qualify that the process that I am about to describe what was actually the process that I went through prior to leaving the Armed Forces 10 years ago. There might have been some changes since them which I am not privy to.
2. Soldier’s position in a camp or station is very dynamic. Some people go in and others go out. Soldiers are always posted in or posted out or they came in for temporary duties. Every time a soldier is posted in there will be movement orders and in would published in “Perbah II”. This publication is signed by the unit commander which basically sorts of confirmed that someone has been posted in or has been posted out.
3. The moment someone is registered on Perbah II, he is considered “a local resident of the camp” and he can vote. This is a secret document which only stays within the military circulation. It goes without saying that depending on who gave the orders and how the camp commander wants to play ball, Perbah II can always be backdated. Once published, the soldier can cast his vote. There are some ball careers or spineless officers in the Army that is willing to do this. I have seen enough to identify such a character. These are the kind of people that goes up the rank via the “express lane”.
4. It used to be that the entire election process is conducted by the Military themselves. It is being organized by a team set up under the OC Admin or the Adjutant. These two characters are very powerful influencing characters that can make a difference on whether election takes care neatly or otherwise.
5. They organized the place, the military verification officers, the schedule of voting and they control the ballot papers. The EC officers usually observe from a distant and usually do not interfere in the process. They would only receive the sealed bag once voting completes. I was told that since the last 2 GE, political parties agents are allowed to observe the voting process which was absent previously. As usual, the voting exercise is done few days earlier than the actual voting by the general public and while waiting for counting the soldiers ballot are kept in a safe place. In theory it is kept by EC. In practical sense, your guess is as good as mine.
6. Some people may be wondering when and how the votes can be manipulated. Firstly soldiers can be brought in and their names are published as unit member’s days before the election. Those who are brought normally have been screened and selected. They will be briefed and will be ordered wisely. They will be told that informed that the Army has ways to find out who they voted for. Indeed the system is not perfect. Post election, we could find out who the soldiers voted based on the serial numbers on the paper as well as the soldiers Bat C 10 No.
7. At the same time soft campaign is being done by those in the government. It is time for “Majlis gotong royong or Majlis perjumpaan dengan ADUN or Menteri. There will be good makan! Food is definitely better than the Armed Forces Messes ration. The soldiers will be advice gently to vote the right party. The serious side of advice is done by several officers.
8. Since the soldiers voted earlier than the general public, there is a long waiting time between the actual voting and the counting of their votes. These votes can be manipulated. The bags that contain the votes can disappears or be change. This is a serious concern that can actually change the result of an election.
9. Among the many factors that would affect the soldiers decision during voting is their mindset. As soldiers that are trained to follow orders and live in fear of their superiors, their mental state has been primed right up to the point they mark X on the paper.
10. The system is not perfect. It is open for manipulation by design. No serious effort is being taken by EC to ensure that soldiers voting exercise would be free from influence.
11. Maybe the EC should maintain a separate electoral rolls for soldiers and policeman which is updated quarterly and during a by election, the latest list is to be used. The election must be done outside their camps in public areas and managed accordingly by civilian volunteers under the eyes of the respective agents. Their votes must be counted on the same day and the result is announced to the agents as well as the public. The downside of this process outweighs the benefit of convincing the public that EC is truly fair and clean.

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