There are a few ways where freedom to campaign have been jeopardised in the Sarawak state elections: 1. Long houses are stopping Opposition parties to campaign-cutting off the info-poor residents from getting information from all sides; 2. Some campaign by the opposition are stopped on account of not getting police permit-even though the party which refused to give permit in the first place is the police themselves; the police don’t think that they need to prove their suspicion of any threat to security to anyone-thus making it possible and likely for partisan consideration to come in ; 3. Stopping the coverage of religious issue specifically the Malay bible issue and the ban over the word `Allah’ for Christians; While the Sarawakians Christians are given exception they are told that their fellow co-religionists in the West Malaysia are stopped from using the word. Meanwhile the Chief Minister try to credit himself by saying that he was the one to stop the printing of serial number on the Malay bible-saying that it is `stupid’. It is not difficult to see that he is trying to gain political brownie point for himself-but at the same time isn’t he giving himself an exception to discuss the religious issue that everyone have to avoid? Lastly the police and the military are beyond accessiblity by the opposition parties. Only the incumbent can campaign to them-causing over 90% of these postal voters to vote the incumbent parties!
Given the above situation the free side of the elections are in doubt. The election administrators involved should be questioned and their answers scrutinised! For a free election to be conducted there should not be any areas of the constituency and any issues being cordoned off to 1 -side of the campaigners. They must be free to campaign-so that the voters are, after listening to all sides, make up their own mind on who to vote. In view of this the EC, as the sole body entrusted by the Federal Constitution, and by the Agong who appointed them, to run free and fair elections, should take all neccesary actions to see to it that all obstructions to free campaigning must be removed at once! All agencies-including the police, the tuai rumah, penghulus must give co-operation to the EC to ensure free elections.
Failure to ensure free elections the EC should be asked to step down. It is equivalent to a foot ball match where the referee refused to allow players from 1 side to enter some taboo spots in the field! No one would like to accept the result of such a football match. Elections should be more serious about ensuring a level playing field than football. the EC should be made to face this grave challenge to the freedom to campaign in Sarawak State Elections!
MEO-Net will seek an appointment to see the EC to thrash out this issue ASAP!