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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kuala Terengannu by-election vote buying antidote

Sim Kwang Yang of Malaysiakini wrote of vote buying in the Kuala Trengannu buy-election in which voters are paid RM400 to vote for BN (Barisan Nasional) and the voter have to use a mobile phone (with digital camera) to take a photo of their ballot paper to prove that they actually voted for BN. I hope the KT voters would not succumb to this temptation and reject the offer. Otherwise if they want to take the money, what they can do is to first mark the ballot paper for BN, take a photo, then spoil the vote by marking for PAS as well. Any ballot paper with markings for more than 1 candidate will be considered as spoilt vote:

A vote for RM400

I read an account on the Internet by a Chinese youth in KT who is too young to vote. He has an uncle who is a longstanding member of the local MCA. Having been saturated with political education by DAP ceramah speakers, the uncle went to BN meetings and asked questions raised in the campaign. He was hushed down immediately.

So now the uncle has decided to vote for PAS, though he was offered RM400 by the BN for his vote. The wise nephew advised him to take the money and vote for PAS. The older man told him that he must photograph his vote inside the polling booth on his mobile phone, and send the picture of his actual vote to the paymaster, or else he would not be paid. If he does not have an expensive mobile phone, one would be provided for him. If he is found to have voted for PAS, all kinds of punishment will descend upon him after the by-election.

Having been at the receiving end of many campaigns of money politics, I find this story believable. This device of using the mobile phone to monitor voter's actual vote violates the secrecy of the vote, and is obviously against the election laws. But in a small town where everybody knows everybody, the uncle is unlikely to lodge a police report over it.

The obvious thing for the Election Commission to do is to ban all voters from bringing their mobile phones into the polling centre. The opposition election agents must also object vehemently to the use of the mobile phone inside the voting booth.

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