GE13 ‘partially free but not fair’, say think tanks
UPDATED @ 12:30:57 PM 08-05-2013PUTRAJAYA, May 8 — Non-Barisan Nasional (BN) parties played on a very uneven field for Election 2013, said think tanks Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) and the Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) today.
The uneven playing field was caused by issues such as a media with a heavy bias towards BN, the use of government facilities during campaigning and doubts over the Election Commission’s (EC) impartiality — all of which are seen to have benefited BN in the polls.
“Although the official campaign period and electoral processes may have proceeded smoothly and without major issues, wider issues that are not within the EC’s purview have built up over the last few years,” said the think-tanks’ joint report ‘Was GE13 Free and Fair?’ today.
While presenting their report here today, both think tanks agreed to recognise the result of the polls, saying the EC ran the polls according to the proper procedures and by the book.
“To me, I think the result is credible the way it is now because we followed the process; it is simply just not a fair election.
“It is the best result we can get, bearing in mind the challenges that we’re facing,” said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, the chief executive officer of IDEAS.
IDEAS and CPPS were partly-funded by the EC as observers, and the team sent 311 short-term observers to 99 out of 165 parliamentary constituencies in peninsula Malaysia. The report, however, encompasses the whole electoral process across Malaysia.
During their observation, they have found out that the integrity of the electoral roll was questionable, the Registrar of Societies (RoS) was not free from partisan interference, and funding of political parties was not transparent.
The team also discovered that despite the sizeable participation of ethnic minorities in the polls, manipulation of racial issues was widespread, including the increase of racial rhetoric that sometimes bordered on the incitement of racial hatred.
The biggest issue concerning the team was the unequal delineation of constituencies, which they feel should be fixed as soon as possible now that the polls are over.
In the report, several recommendations have been made towards the EC, including making its members explicitly accountable to a permanent and bipartisan special parliamentary committee. Its members should also be recruited from experts of the field, instead of being seconded from the civil service
To improve the electoral roll, the team suggested that the EC co-operate with more specialist groups who have undertaken in-depth studies about the roll.
The report by IDEAS and CPPS will be available on both organisations’ websites starting today.
In Sunday’s elections, BN won 133 out of 222 federal seats, short of a two-thirds majority and worse than in the previous polls.
It also lost the popular votes to Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties, and was bested on the popularity front for the first time since 1969, when it had contested as the Alliance Party.