Monday, November 23, 2009

The Election Commision's Wearing the Emperor's New Clothes

There's a certain level of idiocy when one looks at something black and says it's white. Then there's an additional level of incredulity when one really expects everyone to swallow it whole. It brings to mind the story of the Emperor's New Clothes, except here, the emperor's not just strutting in the nude, he's trying to sell his fashion line as well.

First of all you have this Datuk Abdul Hasan Sarif, a Kedah assemblyman, who couldn't be bothered showing up for the state assembly. You're called an assemblyman - the job is to go to the assembly!

And then, on the grounds that it cost too much, the Election Commission tries, and fails, to not hold an election. You're called an election commission - the job is to commission elections!

Beyond the obvious contradictions, the real crime here is having a public institution like the Election Commission fight for a specific party, when the highest call of its duty is to be an impartial body. In a country with too many who are too jaded, or too willing to sit and back and watch, one won't hear a strong enough chorus for the resignation of the EC's clearly biased officials. Officials, who in a more robust society, in a more robust time, would be tarred and feathered by now.

Amidst all this though, some small reasons for hope. First, the high court judge who had the sense not only to rule without fear nor favour. Second, last year's elections, which showed that while some might not ride to the front lines, they don't exactly have as short memories as they used to.

In neighbouring Perak, the strategy seems to be to keep these memories refreshed. With the Election Commission's New Clothes coming after us, another reminder to keep our eyes truly open for those who would commit daylight robbery.