Saturday, 4 May 2013
Healthy Skepticism: Anwar’s politicization of ‘fraud’
For a man who has spoken at length to foreign press about turning Malaysian into a ‘mature democracy’, such a scathing statement utterly fails to communicate these aspirations by demonstrating his willingness to politicize hearsay and disregard polls that claim Barisan has about the same level of support that he enjoys. Anwar and the Pakatan have built their campaign upon the perception that the electoral system is rigged in favor of the incumbent, and in doing that, speculation on opposition news portals has become unquestionable truth for many who get their news through social media. Momentary hysteria ensued following recent allegations that the Electoral Commissions’ indelible ink can be washed off, which was used allege that BN would cheat its way into power by allowing people to submit multiple ballots. This was shortly after debunked by the EC in front of reporters, proving that the indelible ink could not be removed from ones finger despite washing several times using various chemicals and solutions.
Allegations that the Prime Minister’s office was involved in ferrying some forty thousand foreigners to vote on behalf of BN are unsubstantiated and logistically unsound. Bloggers have pointed out several mathematic discrepancies, and that the feat of transporting such a large volume of individuals could not possibly be accomplished with the alleged flights that took place. For all the incompetence credited to the Barisan by the opposition, it is the stuff of tabloids to believe that Malaysian intelligence agents could have recruited forty thousand foreign nationals without such a story leaking months ago, as any scheme would have long been in the making. There are far less obtrusive ways of cheating, and for the BN to attempt such a stunt in the fallout of Project IC is highly implausible. There is no doubt that these allegations should be investigated and the authorities concerned must provide more details to vindicate themselves; however, the opposition leader should have come forward with irrefutable evidence when he initially made the claim before politicizing the (so far unsubstantiated) allegations. Needless to say, if any allegations of fraud are substantiated with evidence, the responsible individual or party must be held accountable.
Skepticism of the opposition leader’s words are held by anyone who is familiar with his history. Anwar’s former allies, including founding members of Parti Keadilan Rakyat who defected, speak in unison when they claim that the opposition leader possess gifted political and communication skills, though many of these individuals cite Anwar’s privy to manipulation, his narcissism and his involvement in money politics and cronyism. Ian Stewart, in his book ‘The Mahathir Legacy: A Nation Divided, a Region at Risk’, writes, “While Anwar’s followers --- as witnessed by myself and other journalists --- were handing out packets of money to acquire the support of UMNO division leaders in his 1993 campaign against Ghafar Baba, Anwar himself was winning over influential people in the party by promising positions in the administration he would form when he took over from Dr. Mahathir.” The goal of a politician is realizing political power. It is imperative that the electorate remains skeptical of allegations from both coalitions.
In this battle of perceptions, the opposition leader has worked tirelessly to create distrust of the electoral process in the minds of voters, and with rhetoric that negates the legitimacy of anything but his own victory, Anwar has set the stage for street protests and political unrest should he loose the election. If the opposition leader cannot wrest power legitimately, the TV cameras of international media will provide ample coverage of Anwar’s plight. Footage of tear gas, water cannons, and any ensuing crackdown would dilute the credibility of a Barisan government, even if it were democratically elected without irregularities. Would that be fair to the hypothetical fifty-one percent of BN voters in such a scenario? Both coalitions are guilty of employing propaganda tactics, and Malaysian voters should remain objective and critical of any politician alleging mass scandals at politically opportune moments.
Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He also contributes to PressTV, Global Research, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at email@example.com.