1 new PACA trained by MEO-Net went on duty under PKR-and found the experiences to be exciting and worth recording for wider benefits:
“My bittersweet PACA experience on 416”
Although i was not a voter in N.11 Batu Lintang constiituency, i volunteered to be a Polling and Counting agent and signed up to be at SK Tabuan Jaya as it had 9 salurans and at the end of the quick briefing by PKR no one had signed up on that sheet of paper!
After reporting myself @ 7am in the morning and filling out all the authorisation forms etc. the assistant leader sent me on some trouble-shooting missions which i wont elaborate here and that took about half the day and fighting through heavy traffic!
It was at about 2.45 pm. that i reported to do my PACA duty and i went into Saluran 6 which had late 30’s to early 40’s voters. When taking over duty, i noted that the 1st Polling clerk was using pencil and there were other pencils on his table but upon observation when i was at my desk, the 2nd clerk nor the 3rd clerk used any of the pencil and i was ok about that.
There was one occasion of i think he was drunk- walked in and showed his driving licence to the 1st clerk and later a photostated laminated color IC, the clerk accepted and since name tallied with my copy of the roll i did not say anything although the KTM asked me to sit down as i had by that time gone over to the 1st clerk to check the identification.
The problem started when the counting began and i could sum it up by saying that i walked out of that room dissatisfied d eventhough our candidate won overwhelmingly at like 3:1
I evaluated my own performance and shared with my PACA mates after i came out of the room and came to the conclusion that i should have done a better job.
Here was what happened.
The KTM, a chinese fellow was at first i thought pretty nice..he said “now this is what we are going to do..pour out the ballot papers and etc..”. All 3 or 4 of them then unfolded the ballot papers but kept it all in the same box. One of them then diligently took out a bunch and started shouting out the name of the party and dropping the paper in the right box. So he went ” Keadilan, keadilan, keadilan….BN, etc.this process of course took some time but all the ballot papers were genuine ones and all ok.
It was at this point on the process that i think i was too nervous… i did not use the tally sheet as my thought was to focus my attention on looking at the ballot papers one by one! i knew about the existence of the tally sheet in my folder but as i said did not tally it at that point in time! The BN counting agent also did not do any tallying on any paper and i was therefore not reminded that that should have been done at that point in time.
Then, what happened next, was that 2 of them started putting their hands into the box that is most full ie, PKR box and count them as you would like counting money when u want to pay someone else. ie. count under ur breath close to ur chest. apparently it was into 10’s. Up to now the KTM did not say anything except to say we are going to count the ballot in each box.
My second mistake was therefore i assumed that after bundling them into 10’s one of them would unravel each and count them allowed like “1,2,3,4 etc..” so i kept quiet at the stage when they were counting the PKR ballots and BN ballots close to their chest. My eyes as not bionic of course! and i did the best i could – looking at 3 persons at the same time- it was a stupid exercise i thought and i should have clarified WITH THE KTM AT THAT POINT IN TIME WHAT HE AND THEM WERE GOING TO DO! again i did not say anything as i thought that surely they would unbundle each and count them one by one.
at the end of this stage the KTM declared PKR342 and BN 89, Independant 7 etc. all of which did total up to the ballot papers issued in that saluran.
It was at this point that i asked,” are u not going to count the ballot individually meaning each bundle? His retort was ” Eh u did not see us counting just now? we already wasted so much time counting already….!!” I cannot remember exactly what i asked next but i rem his answer was no, the margin is more than 4% no recount. ( the BN Counting agent had up to now not said anything or disagree with anything that the KTM did)
I should have called the leader and told him right there and then but at the back of my mind it played on me that look the votes was 3:1 in favour of PKR and i did not pressure the KTM to retally the ballot papers. That was a big mistake. After signing the pink Form 14 i left the room and downstairs i immediately shared what happened to the assistant leader- his reply to me was
” nevermind…etc” – again i think the vote difference with BN made him give me that unsound advise.
I learnt that each KTM would actually do the counting in different steps or differently. And that it is really up to the Counting agent to insist on what was most comfortable and transparent to all.
I also learnt that i could have asked the KTM to elaborate on the step by step process of counting b4 the papers were poured out of the boxes….as oppose to making assumptions that he will do this.. or that. Does anyone know what is the best practice in terms of counting? if so please share at SS!
After having seen and heard and experienced what i did during Polling Day, i think i will most definitely do a better job when GE comes around!! ha haha
Lastly, the presence of 7 0r 8 PACAs from Semananjung in my team definitely encouraged me a lot- they flew all the way bearing their own expenses just to help out on Polling Day! Beat that! Where are our own Sarawakians volunteers? I am also v proud of some frens of mine who had without much hesitation said yes when i asked them to help out. They were all first timers.
To all those who have willing hearts and hands, this is one area that ur services is much needed by the candidates to be their eyes and ears on polling day.
Oh btw, as i looked an observe each voter as they came in, most if not all had pre-determined who they were going to vote for! some had clutching a piece of “how to vote or how to mark guide” obviously given to them outside or perhaps within the station compound by BN folks.
ps. i will lodge and type out a complaint on SPR website later and see IF they will respond or not.