Thursday, May 23, 2013
Khairy Jamaluddin has defended the manner in which Elections 2013 was conducted, arguing in a letter to international current affairs magazine The Economist that there was not “one shred of evidence” of fraud in the polls.
The newly-appointed sports minister also took a swipe at Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, by accusing the opposition leader of not accepting the results because “of his own personal, lifelong ambition to become prime minister.”
“Allegations that foreign nationals were paid as ‘phantom voters’ have proved to be false, with not even one recorded case on polling day. All votes were cast and counted in front of representatives from all the contesting parties who signed off on the results.
“If any evidence of fraud does emerge the government encourages the relevant party to file an election petition in the courts to allow due process to take course.”
Khairy’s (picture) letter to The Economist was in response to a scathing report last week in the magazine of Malaysia’s elections.
The Umno Youth leader has been given the task of improving the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s image abroad and his first job
recently was to soft pedal the angry reaction by Umno politicians towards Chinese Malaysians in the aftermath of GE13.
In its reports, The Economist noted that national reconciliation appears a distant dream post-Election 2013 for a country scarred by the “nasty, divisive” electoral campaign led by Umno and BN in the rural heartlands.
It observed that Umno, to shore up its base of rural Malay voters, had alienated the Chinese and other communities already fed up with the alleged cronyism and corruption associated with affirmative action policies that favour the country’s largest ethnic group.
“Mr Najib has said he wants to be prime minister for all Malaysians. Sadly, however, he presided over an ugly campaign by his... Umno, the main component of Barisan,” the magazine wrote, referring to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was sworn in for his second term as prime minister after BN emerged victors again for its 13th general election running.
“In the rural Malay heartlands, Umno was as negative, racially divisive and pro-Malay as ever,” it added.
Adding salt to wound, The Economist said blaming BN’s losses on a “Chinese tsunami” had been unwise of Najib as the vote trend had clearly shown a massive swing in votes from the young and rising urban middle class, which cut across racial lines.
“Casting the election in such racial terms is neither wise nor accurate,” the magazine wrote in one article titled “A dangerous result”.
“Despite professing to promote a multi-ethnic Malaysia, Barisan’s election strategy has left the country more divided than ever, both along ethnic lines and between urban and rural areas,” it said in another, titled “A tawdy victory”.
The Malay-language media also has not helped BN, The Economist added, citing Utusan Malaysia’s controversial front page when it splashed the headline, “Apa lagi Cina mahu (What else do the Chinese want?), in what appeared to be an attempt to shape the results of Election 2013 as a Chinese-versus-Malay vote.
Despite the outrage sparked, Najib came to the defence of the Umno-owned daily, earning himself more criticism for using race to characterise the results of the polls.
The BN coalition won GE13 with a weaker majority by taking 133 out of 222 federal seats and ceding an additional seven seats to the federal opposition compared to the 2008 polls results.
Out of the 89 federal seats won by PR, the DAP had the largest share with its win of 38 seats.
BN also lost the popular vote to PR ― the first time since the 1969 election when the long-ruling coalition had contested as the Alliance Party.
In his letter to The Economist, Khairy only noted that Najib has come forward to call for national reconciliation.
“He will be prioritising key reforms promised prior to the election to ensure Malaysia becomes a developed nation by 2020 with a mature and liberal democracy.”