Whither BN’s logic?
Writer: Lee Hwok Aun
Published: Fri, 08 Jul 2011
WHEN Nick Leeson, the infamous rogue trader, was convicted in 1995, his lines of defensce did not include “I lost money, how could I have committed fraud?”
When professional cyclist Bernard Kohl was found guilty of doping in the Tour de France, he did not plead: “I didn’t win the race, how could I have cheated?”
Such unreason would not have held in any upstanding court of law. The argument that I did not cheat because I did not eventually profit – in fact, I lost – is pure nonsense, a slimy attempt to deflect attention from the crime, a septic pander for pity.
The use of unfair tactics concerns the process, not the outcome – the rules of engagement, not the products.
Too bad Leeson and Kohl were not in the courts of Umno-BN. They could have been guilt-freed by the stroke of a ministerial pen.
In the buildup to the rally on July 9 for free and fair elections, a familiar claim is being shoved at Malaysians, while the crackdown on the movement’s leaders continues.
Our electoral system cannot be unfair. Why, if it were unfair, how could Barisan Nasional lose some to Pakatan Rakyat?
As PM Najib Razak insisted on June 26th: “Barisan does not manipulate the election. If we do, why should we want to lose four states to the opposition?” (Actually, BN lost five states in the March 2008 general elections, but that miscount is another story.)
BN propagates an insane logic to justify its brutal tactics. I wish they would not; it is embarrassing the nation, exacerbating “brain drain”, and dumbing down our human resources.
And it actually stunningly backfires.
Consider the PM’s argument. Basically, he says manipulation equals victory. So, absence of BN victory in four states proves there is no manipulation. All is fair.
Ah, but if you claim the above as valid, the converse must also be valid. Therefore, victory by the BN in eight states proves there is manipulation. All is unfair.
Some might like to pounce on this own goal, but I don’t want to go in that direction.
The dubious and devious flaw of the entire BN argument is that it completely and willfully ignores issues of electoral processes, which have nothing to do with who wins and who loses, and which are precisely what the protest is all about.
Are our elections free and fair enough? Numerous Malaysians do not think so, among them nonpartisan, concerned and critically minded citizens.
At this point a voice from the corridors of power attempts to distract by retorting, “Isn’t participating in the rally part of the opposition’s quest to gain power?” Well, yes. But isn’t putting down the rally part of the government’s quest to retain power?
Yes, indeed. Again, nobody wins. It’s the process by which political alliances fight for power that we are concerned about at this time.
On this front, some contrasts are clear. One side campaigns for freer and fairer electoral process and democratic reforms, not for the overthrow of past results; the other side insists the process is free and fair, represses that campaign, and blusters that the only way for citizens to express their voice is at the ballot box.
Wherever one stands on the political spectrum, isn’t it better for parties to make commitments to democratic causes before elections take place, so that if they win they are accountable to deliver on those issues?
What is on the list of demands to make elections freer and fairer? Some, like cleaning up the electoral roll, reforming postal ballots, and longer campaign periods, are issues that have been advocated for a long time.
Others, like the use of indelible ink, are reminders of broken promises.
More broadly pertaining to democracy than just elections, the calls to strengthen public institutions, curb corruption and stop dirty politics have been voiced by people of various political persuasions.
All, except the ink one, are features of democratic free and fair elections generally practised in all high-income countries.
High-income countries also allow peaceful public demonstrations, in which the role of the police is to preserve order and safeguard the right to assembly and freedom of thought.
I believe democracy holds intrinsic value, regardless of its effects on economic growth; but at the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that high-income countries democratised before, not after, they attained high-income status.
As people earn more, they simply expect more.
The better thing for this nation is to have the electoral process cleaned and democracy deepened so that election results – whoever wins and whoever loses – are more legitimate in the eyes of reasonable and informed people.