I've never given much stock to the notion of seeing something with my own eyes. After all, we, as human beings, are blessed with at least five senses (some says that intuition, that whisper in your heart, is also a sensory tool). Thus, my opinions are always formed with a combination of this five sense. Preferably, all should be present; in reality, things are not always perfect.
And that, I believe, is a good way to describe the Machap elections: imperfect. I had expected a degree of that quality, but what I got was imperfection in droves. It opened my eyes to the fallacy that is democracy in Malaysia. To see with my own eyes, rule after rule broken, with nothing more than a slap on the wrist as punishment, angers me. Serious politicking were made, acts which influenced further the outcome of an election, but with the immediate punishment one would mete out to a child caught with the hand in the cookie jar.
Having said that, though the trip to Machap was an eye opener, my eyes started closing when the sun rose highest. I was stationed to record the proceedings outside the election compound at Sekolah Kebangsaan Melaka Pindah. Eleven o'clock onwards, the stream of people became a trickle, the misdemeanours repetitive. Late afternoon, I was struggling to keep awake. Such was the boredom and lack of activity around the are. The heat and lack of sleep the night before didn't help, but after the adrenaline rushed morning, the second half of the day was disappointing, to say the least.
It turns out that the action were much more consistent elsewhere, with Komas my colleagues right in the middle of it. Unfortunately, for some of them, they were also in the middle of being harassed by officers of the law. They weren't helped much by their leaders, who spent more time kow towing with the locals rather than keeping their eye on the ball. From what I heard, their inability to keep the ball and run with it (ie be more responsible when their underlings needed help) was absolutely pathetic. The fault, then, lies with pairing of the teams. More thought should have been given regarding this issue, though perhaps a lack of time counted against this.
And it seems that despite recording a lot of the misdeeds, Mafrel will not really be doing anything other than hand over the footage and discuss the issue with the powers that be about the whole electoral process. I suspect that similar things have happened in the past, and yet it seems that the lessons were not learned all that well.
In conclusion, I will end this with the sixth, whisper in the heart sense: anger. Anger at the fake democracy, anger at Mafrel's possible inaction and almost definite lack of influence to make a real difference, and perhaps more importantly, the incompetency of the respective group leaders to protect my friends when they needed it.
*Written after the Machap by-elections mid 2007.