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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ijok: Storm in a political tea cup

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The Where's Walski note: Back in KL, finally, for a few days - then he's off again tomorrow (Sunday). But more about Walski's travels later. Today is the day Ijok decides...

This has to be one of the most talked-about Malaysian elections in history. Granted, it's only a state assembly seat by-election. But it's one that's touted to have a larger big-picture significance. And most of the discussion has been on the Internet, particularly in the bloggerhood.

In any case, today is polling day for the Ijok state assembly seat by-election. And as luck would have it, the weather, like the campaigning preceding the polls, is expected to be nasty. But The Star has a great tip on how the expected bad weather could be averted.

Image hosting by PhotobucketVoting early can chase storms away?

Okay, voting early probably won't stop the storm if it's going to pour anyways - but that's the first impression Walski got when he read the headline. And probably not the first impression The Star had in mind, either. Or are they hinting of a different kind of "storm"? Insert mental image of Dr. Evil saying "stormy" here (complete with hand-gestures).

And regardless of the result later today, trust PAS to make some statement or another linking the stormy weather to God's greater plan. Or "plan", as Dr. Evil would put it.

In any case, the run up to the Ijok by-elections has been one full of drama. Adding to the usual verbal assaults have been physical ones on the PKR candidate's entourage. Not once, but twice (via Malaysiakini, subscription required). Three, if you count the fracas on nomination day.

This particular by-election has also been one touted to be more about the constituency. That it's a proxy battle between Najib and Anwar. In other words, the entire BN vs PKR. More so than the other recent by-elections in Macap and Batu Talam.

Walski's been informed that a number of bloggers have made the trip down to Ijok to cover this by-election. Not surprising, really. As he'd mentioned earlier in this post, this has been a widely reported campaign running up to today, particularly in the blogosphere, or bloggerhood, as Walski calls it.

Perhaps all this hoopla mirrors the wide-spread expectations that the next General Election is not too far off, and that the Ijok by-election is but a barometer that will determine whether the GE would be announced sooner, or later, than expected. At this point, all Walski can do is speculate.
(more stormy Ijok thoughts, in the full post)

Again, allegations of police supression have surfaced, with reports that the police had stopped several campaign ceramah by PKR over the last few days, despite having gotten permits to carry them out, and assurance from the Ministry of Internal Security.

The ubiquitous Phantom-Voter Menace rears its ugly head yet again, with reports that the electoral roll contains voters ranging from 8 years old to an elderly 107 years of age. But then again, what's a Malaysian election without these ghoulish apparitions, eh? And the best way for Phantom Voters to travel? Why, on Phantom Busses, of course. What else would it be?

Image from, hosting by PhotobucketMonitoring the possible appearance of these quasi-supernaturals in Ijok will be a squad of "ghostbusters" to be on the lookout. And what does a phantom bus look like? Probably like a regular bus, except that its passenger manifest would consist of voters whom shouldn't be in Ijok voting in the first place.

And according to this Harakah news report, there are an estimated 1,137 (or more) phantom voters in Ijok. That's a whole fleet of phantom buses right there. At least 23 bus trips (assuming an average single trip occupancy of 50) required to ferry them to the various polling stations around the district. Of course, this entire phantom voter thing brings back memories of the Lunas elections some time back, where bus loads of suspected phantom voters were waylaid on the way to the polling stations. That's the election where Barisan Alternatif slam-dunked an upset victory.

After all the speculations, verbal (and physical) assaults, politicking, and the entire election run-up rigamarole, the proof of the pudding will be in the voting. And with the polls already underway, the results, whatever they may be, will soon be known.

As a somewhat humorous aside, somebody writing in to Malaysiakini has made a very concise prediction - that PKR will win by a margin of 603 votes.

You can't get much more precise than that, now, can you?