Thursday, August 15, 2013

Magical Formula for Voter Registration or Undermining a Voting Process before campaigning even started? By M.H. Tee (long time Cambodian political analyst)


Magical Formula for Voter Registration or Undermining a Voting Process before campaigning even started?

By M.H. Tee (long time Cambodian political analyst)

“Audit Finds a Degraded Cambodian Voter Registry for July Polls” – by VOA on 25th March, speaks volumes of the partisan writings of the said media.

One could only assume that the objective of the said article is to cast doubts even before the campaigning period officially started for the Cambodian election which was held on July28 this year.

It is also synonymous with the chants of the opposition of voter frauds, blablabla, etc.
Therefore, opposition calls and recent assertions that only ‘massive fraud’ prevented or inhibited their victory, to be deeply disingenuous and politically irresponsible.

This stems from a so called audit done on the Cambodian voter registration system and process by alien entities. An audit which is also flawed as the National Election Committee of Cambodia is less than two decades old and is upgrading and improving itself as it develops.

Compare this with the United States, more than two centuries old democracy which up to march 2013, has the Supreme Court deliberating on voter registration in the state of Arkansas.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that seeks to redefine a federal law aimed at streamlining the nation's voter registration process.

There are many examples of this.  The very fact that the VOA gave coverage quoting opposition and opposition inclined organizations freedom of space speaks of mischief and malfeasance.

This is apparently set the stage for the opposition what comes to them naturally – prepare the unsuspecting mindset to cry foul or fraud when they lost the elections. This has been the case in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and even in the “bedrock” of democracy – USA, where the “Bush vs. Gore” elections was decided by the Supreme Court and not be the electorate or in this case, the electoral college!

This article insinuated and presupposed that because of the supposed findings of the audit, any election result that yields anything other than opposition victory is: invalid, illegitimate, and fraud.

The opposition, as they have since 1998 been building 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.

Many who know the recalcitrant opposition speak in unison when they claim that the opposition leaders possess gifted political and communication skills, though many of these individuals cite these leaders privy to manipulation, narcissism and their involvement in money politics and cronyism.
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 leaders have been working tirelessly to create distrust of the electoral process in the minds of voters, and with rhetoric that negates the legitimacy of anything but their own victory, the opposition has therefore set the stage for street protests and political unrest when they lose the election, similar to what they did in 1998.

Since the opposition could not wrest power legitimately, the TV cameras of international media provided ample coverage of perceived and alleged irregularities. Footage of tear gas, water cannons, and any ensuing crackdown would dilute the credibility of a ruling government, even though it was democratically elected.

Irresponsible media and western friendly media add fuel to these speculations and allegations by giving unabated and unsupported or substantiated media coverage to these demagogic politicians.

Would that be fair to the hypothetical majority of the CPP voters in such a scenario? Both coalitions are guilty of employing propaganda tactics, and Cambodian voters should remain objective and critical of any politician alleging mass scandals at politically opportune moments.

So what is then the magical formula for voter registration to avoid registration fraud? Heaven knows as looking at the United States, after more than 200 years of democracy, they are still struggling to have a fool proof system effective across the board!

There is no short cut to completely eliminate registration deficiencies. One should not label such deficiencies as fraud unless in the final analysis, the motive is to nullify the will of the people at the ballot box.

International agencies and international funded media who often take the high ground of righteousness and side with the opposition, in almost every democratic nation imaginable, should consider cutting some slack to Cambodia and assist it to improve their electoral registration process.

This would be a more positive approach rather than condemn and criticize the efforts of the Royal Government to have a free and fair election, which of course, in the eyes of the opposition and their foreign supporters would never be deemed free and fair.

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